I was so lucky that I got the opportunity to attend the conference this year. I signed up to volunteer so I could attend for free, and that was the most amazing thing. It was four days packed with creative energy, great speakers and teachers, and a lot of really cool people.
Over the course of the four days I got three books signed and met some wonderful authors. Nathan Hill, who wrote The Nix, taught a workshop called “X-Ray Writing,” which was genius. He was also funny, and nice and very personable when I approached him to sign my book. He lives in Naples and used to teach at FGCU, but now he’s a full time writer. He says it took him ten years to write The Nix, but what a book! You really need to read it.
The second book I had signed was Nickel by Robert Wilder. He’s from Santa Fe and the poor guy spent most of Thursday sitting on the tarmac at various airports. When I picked him up at around 6:30 that evening he’d been awake for hours and hours and probably wanted nothing more than to get some sleep. But he was great to talk to and really funny. Plus he presented an amazing workshop on YA Crossover fiction. I hope he had a better trip home. His book, Nickel, is a novel so funny I snorted coffee out of my nose. It also was honest, and real, and a great read.
Finally, my last book I got signed at practically the last minute on Sunday. Some of my Boston librarian friends first made me aware of Steve Almond. They dragged me to a reading of his once in Cambridge, and the guy was so funny and such a good writer I’ve bought everything he’s written since. Three years ago I bought his book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life but I didn’t get to track him down to sign it. Since he comes to SIWC every year I knew I could corner him this time, and I did. He’s so sweet and a genuinely nice person.
But those were the books I got signed. I also got to meet Liza Wieland, Stephen Elliott, Joyce Maynard, Lynne Barrett, Jeff Thomson, Jim Daniels, Gina Frangello, and Thomas Swick. Everyone I met was gracious, warm, and interested in having a conversation about writing and creativity. I wish I could bask in the conference’s glow for weeks instead of just four short days.
I’ll write some more soon about the classes I attended. They were all really great and I learned so much from them. I am anxious to finish my first draft so I can go back and start editing with some of these ideas in mind.