Friday, April 06, 2012

Nearly Normal

Writing conferences make me feel normal. There’s something about hanging around other writers. They lay to rest my underlying perception that something about me isn’t quite right. Other people have this 1000 yard stare. Other people come up with absent-minded insipid comments that have little bearing on the conversation in progress and everything to do with. . . something. I forget what. Other people have a sort of impenetrable focus that makes spouses and children feel like they basically live alone.

When conferences overlap, I just hate it. We all are familiar with this conflict. I especially hate double binds that occur in writing. This year Bouchercon and the Western History Association conferences are on the same dates. Weighing finances is traumatic enough

The decision was easy as to which one I’ll attend. I’m committed to participating on a panel at Western History so Bouchercon is out. I’ll talk about the material used in my article for an anthology, The Harlem Renaissance in the West. My subject was on the Harlem Renaissance in Helena, Montana and Laramie, Wyoming. I sweated blood to produce this. It was my most difficult research project. So I’m looking forward to defending it. I rather like academics as they are such a scrappy lot.

One of my favorite conferences last year was Left Coast Crime. In fact, it was there, I was made into an honorary Canadian. This occurred after the 2nd or 3rd scotch at the conclusion of the conference. True, the number voting was slim and a rather boozy lot, but I was enormously flattered. And it was through this meeting that I became friends with Barbara Fradkin and other contributors to Type M.
So much written about conferences is negative. Although I’m certainly not one of the mega-best sellers who has lines forming to buy my books, there’s something about talking with other people in publishing. It’s brain fuel. It’s instructive. It’s consoling to learn that the writing isn’t super simple for other authors either.

 I’m not alone.

My first conference, years ago, was Western Writers of America. I found my agent and published my first novel as a result of going  to Santa Fe. Some of my dearest friends are members of WWA.

Now I’m making friends in the mystery field. I toyed with the thought of going to Bloody Words. My fellow Canadians convinced me their country is on a par with Kansas when it comes to wild politics and environmental challenges. Bet it’s not, but I would like to see for myself.  
Next year, I hope to make it to Canada!


Frankie Y. Bailey said...


I agree with you completely about conferences.

And I'm intrigued by your reference to the Harlem Renaissance. In the West? As someone with an interest in both, I'd love to read your paper after you present.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Great! The anthology is out and it's printed there. It was published by Routledge. I'm so disappointed over missing Bouchercon. I saw that you were enrolled. Sounds like we would have a great time visiting about African Americans.

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