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I hope you are enjoying your summer—long days of light, beach book reading, and the glory of flowers and bees and nature’s showiest show. I just returned from the Rutger’s Writing conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey filled up with inspiration! If you have never gone to a writing conference, seriously consider it.


Here are the reasons why:

  1. You gather together with people who spend a lot of time alone at a computer. You need to meet and talk with others who live like you do—in your imagination, sitting at your desk. Taking notes on story threads, people who choose to stay at home and write instead of hanging out at the bar—of course, you may do both! People who take seriously the craft of writing stories and reaching out to the world with them.
  2. Going to a conference introduces you to presenters, teachers, and keynote ideas that you would otherwise miss. There is so much learning opportunity at a conference—at every level.
  3. Meeting famous authors who inspire the heck out of you.
  4. Building your platform. Get cards and emails from your friends in the workshops and at lunch, dinners, and book signings. Talking to people in line offers you a whole new set of writers to connect with when your book is done.


Highlights and Takeaway

I was mesmerized by Amy Tan’s keynote—a slide show of family photos that told the true stories of her mother and father’s lineage and traumatic history, and her always poetic sharing of the ideas and themes that appear in her books. Read Where the Past Begins to have a taste of the experience we had at the conference. Colum McCann, in his delightful Irish brogue, talked about the inspiration, from real life, of his stories. Both authors are “pantsers”—which means they are not “planners.” The writing world is often divided between these two modes of writing, but many of us of course are both.

I thought of memoir writers as they spoke, how we dip into a well of memory and pick up a thread, how we weave something that creates a story out of the wispiest of clues. You may have your turning point lists to draw from that I often teach and talk about, but you also have dreams, journal entries, photos and other ways that your unconscious mind will pick up on something and create a story out of it. Both these authors talked about dreams, about living in that liminal space between hard edged “reality,” whatever that is, and a place where stories can be born.

I hope you enjoy your summer dreamy moments of creativity. Capture those wisps—you never know what they’ll turn into! And tune into our presentations this month at NAMW.

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