Saturday, March 16, 2013 I attended the Kansas Writers Association Scene conference in Wichita. The theme: "The Complete Writer." Our speakers were Midwest writers who have had varying levels of success, proving once again that you can find wonderful writers EVERYWHERE.
The first workshop, "The Heart of the Writer" was given by seasoned Wichita Eagle journalist and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, Stan Finger. He spoke about some of his experiences and the book he co-authored with Robert Rogers who lost his family in a flash flood in Kansas in 2003 called, "Into the Deep: One Man's Story of How Tragedy Took His Family but Could Not Take His Faith." The novel is currently in it's eighth printing with more than 40,000 copies sold. This remarkable story helped Mr. Rogers to heal from the loss of his wife and four children at Jacob Creek, in the Flint Hills. It was an inspiring journey for Finger as well, who told the story with honesty and integrity.
"The Vision of the Writer" workshop brought local poet, Esper to the audience of writers in various stages of their journey. He shared his work, and marketing tips for developing a visual representation of your words through You Tube videos. He also spoke about the You Tube community that may share your passion with what you create. Music and art are great content to help share the emotion and feeling of your words, and video is a valuable way to keep your audience engaged. His caution, give attribution for art or music you use, as well as continually update your videos to keep the audience engaged. But most important are "the words."
"The Soul of the Writer" given by Jenna Blum, New York Times and international best selling author of "Those Who Save Us" and "The Stormcatchers," was terrific. Both her stories are about people whose lives were rearranged by destructive forces beyond their control, how they survived and the hope they found along the way. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak I recommend you take the time, she's funny and very honest. She shared that "there are moments of grace when ideas come from the either. Our words help reader's feel they are not alone. We are all connected," Jenna said. I think all authors feel the same. Belief in our story is the enabler for grace to come. (Personally, I felt like the kids saying "I believe" so Tinker Bell would come back from the brink.) The fact is we humans make sense with the world through stories.
"The Eyes of the Writer" presented by Roy Wenzel, a journalist and co-author of the "Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door." He's currently working on a book about "The Miracle of Father Kapaun," which is coming out in 2013. His compelling stories about the nature of research and how sometimes you just don't know where or how far a story will lead you hit home for me. "Humans are hardwired for story telling. We love gossip," Wenzel said. His warning: "writers should write for readers, to enrich their lives, give them adventure to ponder, and something to learn. The author must disappear so the reader "experiences" the story...let the soul speak the truth."
"The Voice of the Writer" came to us in the poetry and song writing of John Jenkinson. "The writer's voice must work on the page. The words must be real, visceral, specific and not abstract, using all of the senses." He reminded us that the sound of vowels is musical, they carry the tone and we should use them all, making conscious choices with line and rhythm. "Voices take a long time to develop, if it's easy, it's probably not complete," Jenkinson said.
Writer's workshops are a great way to not only learn, but to network with other writers and industry professionals. Shawguides is a good place to find conferences in your area. Enjoy!