I first became aware of the North Carolina Writer’s Network back in 2006 when I returned to writing after my about 5 year absence. Thank goodness for the internet because I learned about all kinds of organizations. I attended their spring conference at UNC-Greensboro (where I was an undergrad) in the April of 2007 and found it amazing but given that I also started my MFA in 2007 – I never went to a fall conference until this year!
Man, I’ve been missing out.
This first image is actually from the last day. As a faculty member for the conference, I was able to attend other sessions but I made a rule that I wouldn’t stay if there were limited seats etc and Kevin Winchester’s lecture on character was definitely too packed (yay for Kevin!) so I instead went and hung with some of the exhibitors. There were reps from my MFA program there as well as many NC based publishing companies and authors.
But, let’s go back a bit.
The first day of the conference was actually Friday night. I didn’t want to deal with paying $20 to park downtown (or as they call it in Charlotte – uptown) so I decided to drive the two miles to a park and ride. Discovered the park and ride isn’t really a great option because the park and ride is really only for the express and you have to walk further over (or park at Panera which I’m sure they don’t like!) to take the regular buses. It was an interesting experience but I was glad my husband’s nighttime freelance job was only a few blocks away from the Omni where the event was held so I could just catch a ride with him back to my car.
I didn’t stay for everything Friday night but there was some great stuff including a talk by fiction writer Michael Malone.
Saturday – I took the train. I was up WAY WAY early but I still didn’t quite make it in in time for the early morning panel. I look forward to attending a conference where I’m actually staying at the conference hotel so I can attend more of the events. I did have a chance to sit in on two poetry workshops that were great! One was titled “The Passing Moment” in which I drafted a poem and the second was “Story in Poetry” which I couldn’t stay for the whole thing because I met up with my husband for lunch.
Which means I also missed the luncheon with a talk and literary walk through Charlotte. I heard terrific things about all of these! I stayed around for a regional rep meeting (of which I am one) and the faculty readings at 5pm (which I read in). I really had a great reading! It can be disheartening – at times – to read and then have no one pick up your books but *sigh* that’s just the way it goes sometimes. It really made me love my books again. I had been growing tired of reading from them but there was such a great energy in the room and on Sunday I did sign a few copies of things so YAY!
I wish I had taken more pictures but I got caught up in running around trying to see people and balance being local so wanting to do some grading and such (it never ends). I taught my workshop on Sunday. I was one of the last presenters but I still had about 9 people who showed up and they were very engaged. I was able to do some lecture/discussion then discussion/critiquing of poems people had brought with them before giving some writing prompts. The whole workshop I taught came out of a blog post titled I vs Eye which you can go back and read for a gist of what I covered in the workshop.
I can’t say enough about how well the conference was run and put together and I’ve been to bigger conferences such as AWP. If you have conferences in your state or local area, look into them. Sometimes they have scholarships! NCWN does as well as additional services I didn’t need this time around such as the Manuscript Mart and Critique Services. There were also Master classes that you could apply for such as the one taught by NC Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers who also gave a dinner time talk on Saturday.
I’m still decompressing and taking everything that I learned in. Feel free to send me questions about the conference, the NCWN etc etc and I’d be happy to help!
Only negative? This reminded me just how much I love teaching creative writing; how much I wish that was what I did all day everyday
For all the photos click here.