Last weekend was my third year at Grub Street’s, Muse and the Marketplace Conference—Grub Street is the second largest creative writing center in the U.S., and the conference offered a weekend of workshops on craft, publishing and marketing one’s work, as well as author readings, a keynote speaker (this year, Julia Alvarez), and opportunities to make appointments with agents and editors.
My friend, Susan, an amazing writer, and one of the members of the writing group I’m in, is the person who first told me about the Muse. She’s also the one who convinced our other writing group friend Ellen and me to stay overnight in Boston instead of driving back to Providence, so that we wouldn’t have to wake up so early to take the train back in. Despite having to run down the street to Marshall’s for some overnight essentials, Susan had the right idea. We were able to enjoy two author readings by Wendy Call and Eileen Pollack, who had won Grub Street’s National Book Prize. We also had fun staying up all night having pillow fights, and talking about boys, er…I mean, books.
Over 500 people attended the two-day conference in Boston, and it was great to connect with other writers, since writing can seem like–or just plain is, a solitary pursuit. I even got to meet two people in person that I had only met virtually, before the conference. One was Atinuke Diver, or Tinu, of the Yes We’re Together blog (listed on my blogroll). I had reached out to Tinu for advice when I was ready to launch my blog, and she was very thoughtful and helpful. We chatted over breakfast, and it was good to hear of several writing projects she’s currently working on. I also briefly saw Amy Marcott, who helped me with the tech set-up of my blog. She was leading workshops at the conference on social media and blogging.
I also recognized Dan Blank, who teaches the on-line, Blogging 101 Workshop through Writer’s Digest, that I took last year. He appreciated my reaching out to say hello, and seemed glad to hear that my blog was finally live. He was at the conference to lead a workshop on Building Your Author Platform, and talked about how everyone who has a blog is trying to do that–find ways to get more people to their sites. I also told Dan how much I enjoy getting his weekly newsletter, because it isn’t all businessey (I know that’s not a word, but I like it)–it does give good, practical advice, but it’s inspiring in its message to also pay close attention to your craft and to the reasons why you write.
I want to give big thanks to all of the workshop instructors I had. These were the workshops I took–mostly on memoir and creative non-fiction–and the women and men who taught them.
The Art of Memoir Writing with Nahid Rachlin
The Suspension of Belief: On Being A Practioner & Teacher of the Essay in the Age of Skepticism with Jerald Walker
Essentials of Style with Michelle Seaton
7 Habits of Effective Writers with Ethan Gilsdorf
The Self As Character with Ethan Gilsdorf
And In The End…with Robin Black
From Memories to Moments: Structure and Scene for Memoir with Jane Roper
Talk to Me: Interviewing People for Publication with Anne Stuart
Through their passion, knowledge, seriousness about their craft, and thankfully, their great sense of humor, I left each workshop motivated to improve upon my own work, and have now set the goal to try to share more of it out in the world.
Thanks, Grub Street, for another inspiring conference. I look forward to the 2013 Muse, and hopefully, I will make it to Boston to take a class or two from Grub this year.