10/23/13 – Spell check corrected mignon to minion – and as has been pointed out by a sharp-eyed reader, that is NOT correct. My apologies for not double-checking the final post better.
Well, the 2013 Annual FWA conference in Lake Mary is behind us, once again. Great food, wonderful workshops, networking ops, and a chance to visit with writing friends we haven’t seen in a while. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers made sure that it was another outstanding conference experience! I don’t know how they continue to top the year before, but they always do. The award banquet tables were decorated in paper top-hats and tiny circus boxes of animal crackers. And, our filet mignon was perfect; as was the Jack Daniel’s chocolate cake, the service and, well, just about every darned thing! It truly was the Best Writing Conference on Earth which was this year’s theme.
The Youth Writers program is off to a wonderful start and included a writing contest for poetry and fiction. At lunch on Saturday, we got to celebrate and salute the youth winners for the Fiction 12-15 years-old and Poetry 16-17 years-old categories. Also, the winner of the 1st Candice Coghill Award was announced. All Youth Writers winners were present to accept their awards and it was delightful to see their faces and shout our encouragement to them! Candice, who lost her battle to cancer earlier this year, was the driving force behind the development of the FWA Youth Writers division.
For me, it was an evening of personal celebration even though I had no entries in the RPLA’s this year. Friends and writing clients were finalists and in all cases, won or placed in their categories. I was on my feet more than in my seat this year, even with the back on the mend. Congratulations again, to Claire, Heather, Jeff and Bridget, just to name a few of our St. Augustine region winners!
Photos taken by the talented and always-smiling Karen Lieb (and daughter) will be available on the Flicker site in another few days. Visit the website for the link, or go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridawritersfoundation/sets/. Click on the set you want to see, then double-click on the photo you want to copy. Right-click on the photo, select ORIGINAL, select Download the Original Size and then click OK. There should be about a MILLION of them available, judging by how often I saw her – just on Saturday!
I can’t recommend the support of a writing community enough! While the writing may be a solitary endeavor, our spirits need to be around the energy that is uniquely writers. Who else understands, without aid of a dictionary, entire conversations built around voice, style, participles and gerunds? Where a table of bleary-eyed people can unabashedly discuss methods of murder, sex, terror or inspiration without looking over their shoulders for fear of being thrown out of the eating establishment? Where no one cares how many books a New York publisher bought from you or how much you spent publishing your last book yourself because, you are part of one, large and dynamic family?
We all need to belong. We all need to learn. We all need to contribute to other human beings. This is not a religious philosophy, it is human nature. I’ve nearly enough credits accumulated over the years for a psychology degree, so trust me on this one.
If you don’t belong to a writing group, please look for one, and when you feel that connection, be generous and join them. Share with them what you are writing and struggling with – or what you have conquered and how. Listen to them with kindness and patience and honor. And at least once a year, but more often if possible, get thee to a conference and learn, share, participate in a bigger arena. It will help you grow as a person and as a writer. FWA is one of the most helpful professional associations I’ve ever belonged to. And the membership fee affords us FAR more than $55 worth of value, even if we never show up to a local meeting to give and take.
But if FWA isn’t for you, keep looking until you find a group of knowledgeable, generous, and honest writers who can be your writing family. “No man is an island” isn’t just about our spiritual journey through life, it’s also about our writing journey. In the end, you won’t be surprised to find that the two are intertwined.
Happy writing and reading! See you on Sunday! Nancy Q.