April 23, 2006

National Writers Workshop Part I

Spending the weekend mostly here.

I will not go into too much detail; its been a mixed bag so far. I've been to some large plenary sessions (Nuala O'Faolain, David Halberstam, Robert Olen Butler) as well as smaller workshops (Angie Chuang, Cora Daniels). Heh. The correlation between Wikipedia entries and plenary speakers is amusing.

I'm getting a lot of energy and ideas. I jotted down some things.

Ms. O'Faolain describing herself as an "honorary man" once she entered the world of public importance. She also discussed having readers as a "raid on the inarticulate" which is an amusing phrase. And finally, this warning to would be memoirists - writing it down tends to "set ones condition in amber". Fair warning to someone like myself, intent on growth and not remaining in the same place. From Mr. Butler, the additional warning: "Writing is not therapeutic"

David Halberstam was wonderful to listen to - his New Yorkishness of a certain age resonates; I could see my father and uncles in him. His one critical question vis a vis journalism: "Who else should I talk to?" seems an apt bit of advice for a spiritual journey as well.

A few general observations.

* The space was woman dominated. Interesting. Whereas the panelists / presenters were more male. Noted without a lot of comment.

* The space was small and tight - the plenaries were in a tented area that was cold in the rain. Makes me wonder if they should consider a different space; it seems to me like U-Hartford or CCSU or Trinity might have been able to host the conference more comfortably.

* Similarly, the name badges / conference credentials were tiny, text based, no logo, B/W and inauspicious. After having been to queer conferences, professional conferences, etc. I've amassed a collection of badges - and these seemed the lowest profile imaginable. Not sure if this is a deliberate thing (humble writers, journalists intent on keeping a low profile, a certain sense of propriety and place, an emphasis on substance over style) or if its simply not that important. You'd have to be in someone personal space to actually read their name from their nametag.

* I was struck by the not so networky crowd. I tend to have a "hell, I'm paying for this, might as well make some connections" attitude, and I try to chit-chat with people when I sit down, hang out in the halls, etc. Seemed to be a lot of people sitting alone or in pairs, pouring over the conference materials. I'm just used to a more schmoozy kind of conference where people are actively networking; as the techie I'm usually hopelessly outclassed by the sales and marketing types, here I was the schmoozer. In any case, I met some nice people mainly because I was all up in their business ::grin:: "So, what brings you to this conference?"

I'm heading back today, although I am probably going to miss the first sessions (gots to have my yoga)

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