On Saturday, October 15, Janis and I went to the first Write Here, Write Now Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Seattle7 at the Columbia City Neighborhood Center. What a fabulous success! This is, of course, my opinion as an attendee knowing nothing about how much money it raised for literacy in the schools. But from the point of view of a writer, the day was highly satisfying. The group of local authors who presented mini-lessons on everything from writing a killer first paragraph (Erik Larsen) to dialogue (Thea Cooper), plotting tricks (Bill Dietrich) and indulging your senses (Erica Bauermeister) to name just a few, were impressive and accessible.
The hundred or so writers seated at lunchroom style tables clicking away at laptops or scribbling in notebooks were filled with energy and enthusiasm. I came in skeptical that I would actually get any writing done in the forty-five minute blocks set aside throughout the day for that purpose, but went away with a new and hopefully “killer” first paragraph for the novel I’m currently revising, as well as some excellent strategies for killing my “darlings,” those long, quiet, interior pages of exposition that I need to cut drastically to keep the novel moving. I brought a couple of those pages to a “Tough Love” session and had Maria Semple rip into them. Actually, she was quite kind but suggested that rather than holding forth about Virginia Woolf in my own literary bubble, I remember that readers want more action. Remember the reader! She’s right, of course. Ah, well. Farewell my darlings. Also, I brought this same writerly sin to confess during my fifteen minutes in the “Writer’s Confessional.” And here I got another strategy from Maria Dahvana Headley. I’m to pretend that my novel is being made into a movie. What do these scenes look like where my character is quietly reading and thinking about literature? Ho hum. Okay, I get it now so I go back to the writing block and cut away at those long narrative stretches. Thank you both for your authorial wisdom.
I’m so pleased that we had a chance to go to this first conference and hope it becomes an annual event. My only suggestion would be a slightly larger venue – I did feel a little bit like a sardine packed into this room even though I was on an end seat and could stretch out more than some seated in the middle. Also, it would have been nice to know before driving around the block several times that street parking would be necessary and those two-hour parking signs didn’t apply on Saturdays.
Here, here Seattle 7 writers! May you continue to inspire writing and literacy in our community for a long, long time!
P.S. As noted by Janis, the food was delicious and plentiful all day long.