On Saturday, August 1, I had the pleasure of being a presenter at the annual symposium of the Virginia Writers’ Club. This is the third time I’ve presented at this event, and I must give the organizers credit for putting together a lively and helpful conference. I believe that all the participants benefited from being there, listening to panels, engaging in workshops, and meeting other writers.
One of the highlights was the keynote address by Sharyn McCrumb, one of the best-selling authors in Virginia. McCrumb, a lively speaker, talked about the vagaries of the publishing business (speaking truth, but maybe not what aspiring writers want to hear), and also compared being a writer to being a NASCAR driver.
For my part, I gave a talk on Writing the Other/Cultural Appropriation, in which I discussed the challenges of writing cross-cultural fiction, including the potential for criticism when it’s not done sensitively.
I also ran a workshop on organizing short story collections, a subject with many questions and few certain answers. But we looked at examples of some collections to see how they were organized, and my conclusion, at least, is that your organizing principle depends entirely on what sort of book you’ve written. There is no one solution that fits every set of short stories.
Because I was leading sessions, I didn’t get to attend many of them, but from the agenda it looked like there was something for everyone.
I know that VWC is already thinking about next year’s symposium, so you might want to set aside the first Saturday in August 2016 and plan to come.