I hope everyone’s summer is going along nicely. Sure has been hot and dry here in Ohio. I’ve been on the road a bit since the school year ended, teaching first at The Sun writing retreat in the deep woods of northwest Massachusetts and then at the Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference in Lincoln, NE, a city that’s dear to my heart, having spent five wonderful years there doing my doctorate and writing the stories that would make up my dissertation, which would become my first book, the story collection, The Least You Need to Know, from which this blog takes its name.
I had a wonderful and nostalgic week in Lincoln. I visited some old haunts, saw some old friends, made some new ones, and had a fantastic bunch of writers in my fiction workshop.
We had a few laughs (yes, the jokes were flying), we read some excellent stories and excerpts from novels, we talked about all things important to literary fiction: characterization, structure, detail, point of view, and language. It’s always a privilege for me to be invited to teach at these conferences, where I become, in whatever small or large way, a part of the participants’ passion for writing. When I was a young writer, post MFA, I started attending writers’ conferences, and each one of them taught me something I didn’t yet know and also allowed me to start friendships, many of which continue to this day, and to establish professional connections that have sometimes helped ease my way along my writers’ journey. I’m always glad to give back by teaching workshops at these summer conferences, sharing what I’ve come to know more deeply in this lifelong apprenticeship to what my former colleague Lee K. Abbott, now enjoying the vistas of New Mexico in retirement, always called “the life lived between margins.”
If you’re looking for collegiality, professional networking, and a time when other writers pay very close attention to your work, I encourage you to consider attending a conference. There are so many good ones out there. Here’s a link to a valuable resource for all matters writers’ conferences and colonies: http://www.writersconf.org/
The next conference where I’ll be teaching will be the Midwest Writers’ Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, in late July: http://www.midwestwriters.org/
I’ll be presenting two sessions, each dealing with flash fiction and what it can teach us not only about its own form but about longer forms as well.
I hope we get some rain soon, and I hope all our summer writing plans go. . .well. . .just as planned.