One of my goals for 2023 was to do more teaching and March has certainly delivered! Two different webinars, an upcoming in-person writing event, and a month-long large and lively writing class are keeping me on my toes.
So I was tempted to opt out of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference that took place in Seattle this past week. I had already committed to teaching both Friday night and Saturday morning and almost, almost stayed home to do some spring clean-up in the garden instead of making the drive into town Saturday for the final day of the conference.
I'm so, so glad I didn't stay home! The first session I attended was a discussion between Kiese Laymon and Imbolo Mbue about storytelling as a means to confront environmental racism. Their conversation about how story, and the texture of the characters in their stories, has to stay in the forefont of their writing and not give way to their own personal agendas or sense of morality was so thought-provoking and timely, especially as I finish up my own revision on a story that has huge social and environmental justice themes in it.
If you're not familiar with their work, they are both incredible. So as usual, I recommend adding these titles to your TBR list:
After that, I attended a panel on craft in YA fiction that was equally inspiring. The panel reminded me why I'd committed to doing more teaching work in the first place--because so many creative writing courses are ultimately focused on the mechanics of grammar, of sentence level writing craft, leaving writers to struggle without the fundamentals of storytelling craft that are required to create a successful novel-length work.
As much as I loved the panels and needed the dose of inspiration, the real beauty of the day was the conversations that happened after I left the convention center. I got to meet a friend I've known since 2015, but had never met face-to-face until yesterday. And of course, we both introduced each other to some new friends--the type of people who will continue to help make this writing journey feel a little bit less lonely for both of us.
So a shout-out to my friend, amazing panelist, ground-breaking professor of writing, and all around amazing human, Jen Ferguson, and her book, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet (I am nothing if not a book recommendation engine, friends!). I probably would have stayed home yesterday if not for the chance to see Jen.
My garden may still need that spring clean-up, but my creative well is once again refilled. I hope you find a little something to inspire you in the coming week.