Conferences, Residencies, and Retreats

I don’t believe I have ever attended a writers’ conference that I didn’t walk away with beneficial information and inspiration.  This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Mid-Tennessee Writers’ Conference sponsored by WRITE-MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University).  I came away inspired and with some new insights on the writing life.

If you have a passion to do something, I’ve always believed you should invest where your heart is—writing is my passion, and I’ve spent a heaping plenty attending conferences and workshops across the eastern part of the U.S. (as far north as Columbus, Ohio, as far east as New York City, as far west as Texas, as far south as New Orleans, and Fairhope, Alabama.  Those are just the boundaries—I’ve attended conferences in many places between those boundaries. Some of these include Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Kenyon College, Indiana University, SCBWI in Atlanta, Rope Walk, Monroeville Conference, and numerous others.

I have met many would-be writers who have never attended a conference or workshop or reading or showing of the art form they so much love.  They write within a tiny bubble—their home office or at the island in the kitchen. If you are an artist—painter, musician, writer—you don’t have to travel too far to find something of interest to you—perhaps that is a reading by a writer, a showing of art at a museum, library, or book store or perhaps the local college is sponsoring a workshop for musicians.  Somewhere, there is something that will enrich your life and feed your passion.

This weekend at MTSU, I had the opportunity to learn about techniques to break out of writer’s block; I learned about the writing habits of some of the world’s greatest writers; about the ability to hold on when publication is long-delayed and seems impossible.  I also had the opportunity to be in the company of other writers who inspired me, and—not least—I made some new friends, and reconnected with old friends.

In short, we should all invest in those things that make us richer.  Invest in those things of the heart.  Invest in those things that sustain our passion for life.  That means an investment of time, energy, effort . . . and dollars.  At least, that’s my take on things.

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