Friday, July 21, 2006

Mystery Writers, Al Gore and 52 Types of Vodka

from Jacqueline

As you already know from Cornelia’s post, we were both at the Book Passage Mystery Writers’ Conference last week, and as co-chair of the event I did not know which way was up – so busy that composing a post for the blog was the last thing on my mind. Sorry I didn't make it to the page.

I won’t reinvent the wheel here, as Cornelia has already told you what an amazing event it is, however, I will throw in a few cents worth. When Judy Greber and Marilyn Wallace first developed the conference, they laid a foundation that remains to this day: It’s all about the attendees – those writers who come clutching an idea, a few paragraphs, an outline, fifty pages or a whole manuscript. And along with their work and their dreams, they come with the whole gamut of emotions – this is, after all, where they go live with their work. The very first thing I asked everyone to do was to applaud themselves, because when you’ve been beavering away on your own, trying to make ten paragraphs or ten pages each day, most likely with a day job, and/or kids, or 1001 other things to worry about, taking that leap, making that investment in your work represents an enormous leap of faith. I think we all take that leap of faith every time we face the blank page – and I confess, it scares the heck out of me every single day – so what’s really great is the way that published authors come together, responding to the call to play a part in helping another writer edge a little closer to first-time publication.

I’ve always believed that a true educational environment is one where everyone learns something. It’s a place where not only the “students” garner some knowledge they didn’t have before – perhaps a nugget of wisdom that jettisons them from the plateau – but where those who teach find that they’ve come away with a gem or two along the way. I remember being at a marketing workshop years ago, and the facilitator kicked off by saying that as he drove home after each course, he replayed the events of the week in his head and always, without fail, came up with ten new things he’d learned from his students. That’s what last weekend was all about: learning together. And that’s why I love the event.

I’m off to the UK on Monday and I’m packing my shorts. This is not something I usually do while in Britain, but then it is 103 degrees there at the moment, and has been pretty much in that range for the past week or so. Next week it may cool down a degree or two, and everyone is just about on their knees praying for a storm to break the heatwave. Which brings me to (Vice) President Al Gore, who appeared for a signing event at Book Passage last Friday – we think he worked it to meet a few mystery writers, if truth be told. I am not one who is usually thrown by the rich and famous, or by celebrity (I did go weak at the knees once, when I met Huston Smith, one of my heroes), but let me tell you, if Al Gore had uttered just a few speeches six years ago, with the passion he demonstrated at Book Passage last Friday, then the world would be a better place today – and we mightn’t be so damn hot! At the end of his 15-minute talk, 1500 people who had come to have him sign copies of “An Inconvenient Truth” would have followed him anywhere. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of a true leader for years – but I saw one at Book Passage last Friday evening.

So, next week my post may not actually get in on time again, and here’s why: My parents live in a very small hamlet in Sussex, England. They have no internet access, so I have to make my way to the nearest internet cafe which is four miles away. The cafe is called “Revolver.” They sell 52 types of vodka along with coffee and tea, and they play only Beatles music from 12 noon to 12 midnight. So my post may actually be a velly late posht.

1 comment:

  1. I never made it to the Book Passage Mystery event, but I took the Elizabeth George workshop and found it to be life-altering. The best part is I made several friends among my classmates. Eight years later and we're still best buds. It's great to be part of a community of writers.