Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dorothy Allison at the S.F. Writers Conference

Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina, gave the keynote speech at the conference. Here is an encouraging quote:

“They will say to you that publishing is dead. But after the Black Death comes the Renaissance. After everything changes, we go back to essentials. And this is what I believe is essential: We’re lonely. We’re scared. Some of us have insomnia. We get up in the night, and we walk back and forth. You can only watch television so long. PDX 90? Damned if I’m doin’ exercises in the night. Oprah? I already saw the show. No, no, no. I get up in the night, an’ I need a story. I need a book. I need somebody to invite me into a world they have imagined whole. Or stolen. I genuinely don’t care. Just take me there. Ride me on language. Charm me. Fascinate me. Scare me or excite me, but take me out of myself. We are lonely. We are scared. We need story. That does not change.”

At the end of her talk, Allison quoted Vladimir Nabokov: “I don’t write to change people. I don’t write to make a difference. I write to make that still, small sob in the spine.” Allison then said, “That is not about money. That is not about prices. That is about that immediate, intimate connection.” She paused and everyone waited, absorbed in what she had said and would say, “Let the culture, let the economics, run behind me. I know what I’m doin’. I write to make that still, small sob in the spine.”

She received a standing ovation.

Friday, February 25, 2011

San Francisco Writers Conference

February 18-20, 2011 records another great writers conference. New information, new friends, new inspirations along with seeing old friends makes this annual event one I wouldn't miss.

This year's keynote speaker was Dorothy Allison whose books were recommended to me five years ago when I became a volunteer for this conference. After she spoke, everyone in the Mark Hopkins Hotel Dining Room gave her a standing ovation.

I work the registration desk on Friday and Saturday mornings. With my three helpers, we made sure all 320 attendees were welcomed. In the afternoons and on Sunday, I was free to go to the workshops. Although I had several presenters checked, I wasn't able to hear all of them. I missed Ransom Stephens and Teresa Leyung Ryan but had a chance to greet them with hugs in the halls. Ransom's "The God Patent" is one of my all time favorite books, and Teresa is an enthusiastic supporter of building your writer's platform.

Penny Warner, humorous as always, passed out clever bookmarks and colorful key chains with the picture of her latest cozy mystery book's cover: "How to Survive a Killer Seance", which is set in the Winchester Mystery House.

Future blogs will have tips I learned from other workshops. A conference is one of the best ways to mix with other writers and to meet published authors and agents.

Mark your calendars for February next year and see you there.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Time and Taxes

Time seems to be elusive lately. I realized I haven't blogged since December and here it is February. I'm involved with several projects and soon Taxes will be added. With many people thinking about the IRS and money right now, I found this quote that might ease some frustration:

"The real capital you have is your own consciousness."

~ Dr. Pillai

Gratitude for my consciousness helps to put Taxes in a manageable chore box where I have faith in myself that I'll get them done...just not right now. That due date is a whole two months away.

Time is important to a writer...not only setting aside time to write, but also to use it creatively in writing a story. I remember a short story I read that had a strong sense of time passing during a late afternoon and evening. There was little action in the story, it was mostly the characters' intense conversation. But after all these years, when I think of that story, I can still feel a sense of the room darkening although it wasn't specifically stated. One of the ways I was aware that time was passing, is that the characters poured themselves several drinks during the course of the dialogue. We all know how long it takes to have a social drink and with the inclusion of at least three or four refills, the author showed me that it was getting late, the crisis was building, and I wondered if there would be a fight or a resolution to their philosophical differences. Time and tension go together.

A story around Taxes would be a tension filled story. Meeting the due date for a huge project often has unexpected interferences and hence, a story line.

Make friends with Time for more reasons than one.