This is the first post recapping my five days at the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, and today we’re going to chat about people.
The first thing I need to say about people is that I was quite nervous about a) meeting up with some long time writer friends I know through my computer and not through face time, and b) meeting lots of people who called themselves writers. The first one is explanatory, and you can bet there was great rejoicing when we all verified we were not murderers. But the second one was scary to me for a more complicated reason: I felt like all these people, who would call themselves writers and do writingy things and spend hours in front of their keyboards or buried in books, would know immediately on seeing me that I am a fraud. They’d take one look and know I actually can’t write at all, I’m quite incapable of communicating and as far as stories go, you might as well just take a nap.
Thankfully, this didn’t happen.
What did happen is that all these writers were creative, energetic, sweet, and 90% of them looked as scared as I was. They were easy to speak with, and knowing that we all were there for the same reason made starting conversations easy. So in terms of people in general, what you must know about conferences is that the people will only make your experience better!
The next thing about people is a few specific names y’all need to look up and fall in love with (in a super totally not creepy way like me).
The first name is William Kent Krueger. I attended his intensive session on Thursday, which dealt with the basics of writing a novel and highlighted each of the components, and I don’t think I’ve ever learned more in a short period of time. He is a supremely gifted writer and capable of being simultaneously encouraging and hilarious, which is a rare and precious quality. Plus, major bonus points, he’s from Minnesota and since I am Minnesota born and bred that fact made my day.
He also managed to sell me on one of his books, Ordinary Grace, just by reading us the first line in class. I’ll share it here, in case it can rope you in too:
“All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota, sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota.”
You can buy it here.
Another person for you to watch is Jess Lourey. She’s another Minnesota writer (this is my triumphant dance of home state pride) and a very talented teacher. I took her workshop on the seven steps of writing a novel, and despite the fact that I have historically been more pantser than plotter, I found the information incredibly smart and helpful and I’m looking forward to using it to make the orchestra book much better.
The third person for you to find and follow is Kelsey Timmerman. He’s doing incredible work combining writing with social justice, and his Buttonhole the Expert talk on using the things you’re passionate about to create things no one else can was one of the absolute highlights of the conference for me. He’s started a project pairing writers with people who have stories to tell – about hunger, homelessness, drug addiction, autism, and much more – and creating books to share those stories with the world. This is something I have always been equal parts curious and passionate about, and I plan to learn as much as I can about his model and, if I can work up the courage, perhaps begin something similar in my home town.
So there you have it – the people you need to know about from MWW! Come back tomorrow for a post on the places of MWW, and start thinking about signing up for next year’s conference!