The first thing I remember writing that was of any real significance to me was my name. That’s probably normal. The second thing was a book that I composed titled Cat Wars, which was just like Star Wars but with cats. In my six or seven year old mind it was brilliant. A couple years later, in third grade I composed a love letter to the object of my affection. Eventually, I sent that exact same love letter to several different girls in the class, as the object of my affection changed often. I wasn’t thinking about girls comparing notes, but they sure did and I didn’t soon live that one down.
By my teen years I was writing journals and poetry and the occasional short story. In my twenties I found playwriting, a genre that has proven to be my strongest and the one that I have stuck with for the better part of a decade and a half. I also write narrative accounts of family, work, and silly things, as well. I’ve even tried my hand at poetry again recently, something I haven’t done for quite some time. Of course, I also write to communicate and for work. I enjoy writing. It’s a great creative outlet, one that allows me to reflect, share, express, entertain, and learn.
I’m writing this from my room in a lodge at Cedar Lakes, the home of the Annual West Virginia Writers Conference – day one of three. In the ten hours or so since I arrived, I’ve seen a few familiar faces, and I’ve met some nice people and terrific writers from all over the state and beyond. I presented a fun workshop on playwriting, attended an insightful workshop on memory mining, and sat in on a hilarious and informative lecture on storytelling and tall tales. I’ve written a bit and read poetry from Beyond the Magpie, too. I took long walks in the hot sun, and a short night time walk as rain began to fall. What a day! I’ve also given a lot of thought to why we write.
Every semester, in every class, we begin by answering that question. Why write? I’ve posed this question to probably over a thousand students in recent years and the answers are usually pretty similar. As stated above, we write to reflect, share, express, entertain, learn, communicate, work, but we write for many reasons, personal and professional. It’s a big question with a thousand tiny answers. Still, if I had to answer it more succinctly, I think we write mainly to tell our stories. And everyone has a story to tell.
Here’s to West Virginia writers, and writers everywhere, and to our stories. And here’s to two more days of this fabulous conference.
DAY 2 UPDATE
Day 2 of the conference began with a delicious breakfast, followed by my second of two playwriting presentations. I also attended a helpful workshop on oral interpretation, and in the “do something that scares you department” I attended (and participated in!) a poetry reading. Additionally, I ran into two of my former Marshall professors that had a big impact on my development as a writer. I visited the bookshop, bought two new works, and then relaxed for a couple hours reading the first half of an amazing collection titled A Consternation of Monsters by Eric Fritzius. The day ended with a banquet that included delicious food and an awards ceremony for a wide variety of WV writers. Now, that’s how you do a conference.
Two days down, one to go. Go, WV Writers!
DAY 3 UPDATE
After a long Friday and longer Saturday, Sunday was short and sweet. I had a great breakfast, then went back to my room to spend an hour starting writing on a new play. After that, it was time to pack up, take one last walk around the area, and make one last trip to the Assembly Hall. Then, after 48 hours of workshops, reading, writing, and hanging out with some amazing writers, it was time to head home.
Thanks to everyone involved for making this weekend an amazing, inspiring time. Until next time, happy writing everyone!