Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wish You Were There!

Writers at the Beach, which I taught at over the weekend, is one of my favorite events each year, because there’s such a nice, supportive vibe throughout the conference. The writers are donating their time to help raise money for mitochondrial disease research (a terrible genetic disease that organizer Maribeth Fischer's two young nephews died of), and the participants are all eager to learn.

I heard many excellent readings—be sure to watch for Sheri Reynolds' new book that she read from…still no title, though it’s coming out this fall; I can relate to title woes!; and Erin Murphy’s poetry is a always a delight; Marian Fontana can make a ballroom full of people simultaneously laugh and cry—and I came away inspired by the INCREDIBLE work the members of my collage class created in only two hours (I’ll write more about that at a later point; I’m a passionate new fan of collage writing now!). I also enjoyed meeting the members of my “First Pages” class; we had a great conversation about how to send your story/essay/novel off to a good start. I could have listened to keynote speaker Jacquelyn Michard for an hour more as she shared writing tips and hilarious stories about her damaged knee!

I was on the Marketing Boot Camp panel and was interested—as always—to learn from the experts about personal branding and the importance of not under-valuing ourselves and our work. I will be redoing my web site in the next few months, and I picked up some good tips on the importance of keeping one’s web presence up to date. (For more specifics on that, here's a recent posting from Buzz, Balls & Hype about what a writer’s web site should include.)

Plus…I was at Rehoboth Beach and the weather was perfect for walking along the ocean and for sitting outside on the boardwalk eating Thrasher’s Fries—which I ate an hour before dinner—which I then followed with several (okay, many) handfuls of Dolle’s caramel corn. Unfortunately, dinner that night at Fins was also delicious, and I still regret having to leave behind some of the grits and macaroni and cheese due to feeling TOTALLY STUFFED. On the drive home, I stopped at the outlet mall, spent too much money, and ordered a Grotto pizza to take home to Steve…65 percent of which actually did make it back to Virginia. The other memorable meal of the weekend was delicious duck confit at Espuma, and I truly think it was this recent post that had put duck confit in my mind, since it’s not exactly beach food.

Now—it’s spring break at Johns Hopkins, so since I won’t have to worry this week about reading manuscripts and planning something to talk about in class, I am back to focusing on my poor neglected novel-in-progress. It’s nice to approach my own work while feeling the lingering effects of a weekend spent immersed with writers talking about writing…which for me, is ultimately the best part about attending any conference.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.