A photographer friend of mind uses the term “lagniappe” to describe the little extra that makes his pictures special. He is always searching for it. Sometimes it is the gift of the wind opening a petal just as the camera clicks, or a sunbeam illuminating a bird in flight. It is unpredictable, but when it happens, it changes everything.
The first annual Wordcrafters Conference was full of lagniappe; little extras, unexpected gifts that added up to make the experience extraordinary, from the remarkable lineup of top-notch workshops, sessions and speakers to the craft labs which offered one on one time with best selling authors, to the Introverts Ball.
The lagniappe for me was the spirit and feeling of the conference. During the conference Terry Brooks said, “Every time I write, I am reborn into the world again.” Elizabeth George said, “When I write I feel whole.” Every writer in the room felt a kinship with them. This is what it means to be a writer. Writers are a tribe, a family and are connected by the passion that drives them. This conference managed to tap into that deep well of inspriation and enveloped everyone who showed up in its loving embrace.
Best selling authors like Terry Brooks, Elizabeth George and Susan WIggs didn’t have to show up at an unknown conference in a small town in Oregon, but they did. And not only did they show up, but they brought their passion and open-heartedly shared their experience, knowledge and presence because, “We have all been where you are.”
The mentoring, the sharing and the generosity of all of the writers, presenters and authors surprised me. Every presenter poured themselves into their work, answering questions and making connections. Every writer I know, from the seasoned professional to the first time published finds ways to take time from their writing to share their hard earned knowledge, either by mentoring, teaching, facilitating critique groups or blogging. This conference pulled on that drive to reach out to others. For example, newly published authors Lisa Alber and Christina Lay reached out during a ‘lunch and learn’ sesion and showed what to expect when your first book is published.
We learned in Elizabeth Engstrom’s workshop on ‘How to Write a Sizzling Sex Scene’, that the most important part of the scene is the afterglow. You know a conference is good when it’s over and no one wants to leave that wonderful afterglow. People started towards the doors, but found reasons to stop and talk, to have just one more cup of coffee together before parting, to enjoy another laugh about the introverts ball or to exchange cards and phone numbers.
Mark your calendar for March 20th, 2015. You need to be there. In the meantime, may all your writing be full of lagniappe.