Writerly event packs them in

Written by Submitted September 25, 2013 03:19 pm

Author Rebecca Lawton reads from her book on Friday night.
Author Rebecca Lawton reads from her book on Friday night. Del Norte Triplicate / Laura Wiens
Poets, playwrights, publishers and pupils sat in cozy surroundings at the College of the Redwoods-Del Norte campus in Crescent City last weekend. 

The theme of the 13th annual writer’s enclave was “Collaboration and Community.”

CR Professor of English Ken Letko helped sponsor the event and was the general host as well. 

While many tired commuters rushing home might otherwise have been hoping for a sunny fall weekend on Friday, these lovers of a simple sentence gathered and were enraptured by an energetic panel of authors discussing their wares. A panel discussion included published authors Julie Crabtree, Rebecca Lawton, Zara Raab and Jim Dodge, as well as the publisher of Bona Fide Books, Kim Wyatt.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, not even a break at 7:30 p.m. thinned a dedicated crowd at the local college campus. Friday night’s session ended with a writer’s panel whose members fielded any and all questions from the large library campus audience.

The panel answered some tough questions. When, during the day, does one write? What about the demands of family, careers, time? Former poet, teacher and overall pundit Jim Dodge had a ready answer for most questions. 

Author Jean Hegland was the keynote speaker to kick things off Saturday morning. She spoke of spark, luck, grit and secular faith as ingredients found in community and collaborative writing.

Hegland identified reading as the necessary twin of each. What distinguishes us from all other animals is story-telling. Her current project is a global and in-depth look at Shakespeare. That huge endeavor takes faith — faith in oneself.

With a little luck, authors can spark a change in the world. Look at Martin Luther. His particular luck was that his protests in the 16th Century coincided with the invention of the printing press.  

Both Hegland and Dodge pointed out that writers are necessarily introverts and therefore, not the best vehicles to market one’s stories. That is where publishers and publishing comes in.

Kim Wyatt, publisher of Bona Fide Books out of South Lake Tahoe, provided a practical workshop for a full crowd, on her second workshop of the day. Wyatt provided the eager pupils format-example letters and practical tips for how to get your book published in a changing book world. 

The second day breakout sessions were mostly filled up. They covered many other subjects where attendees are allowed to participate, so they can overcome such things as writer’s block or learn the fine art of collaboration; where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 

Wyatt also conducted a workshop on “Making a Long Story Short.” Using such devices as intentionally starting in the middle of a story, like Edger Allen Poe sometimes did, is an effective way of writing. Sometimes called “flash fiction,” there is no end to how short one can tell a story.

A fine lunch brought everybody out to the Saturday afternoon sunshine while eating catered fare.

The 1 1/2-day session ended with an open mic on a first-come, first-served basis; on original works, with a five-minute limit to each participant. As the crowd gently disbursed into the warm afternoon sun, it seemed as though the participants easily got three days’ worth of information in half the time.

Lauren Paulson is a Brookings writer of poems and essays. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it