Last weekend I attended the Wordstock Festival, a book fair that has a lot more to offer both readers and writers. Although the focus is on how educators use writing to increase student skills, writerly offerings were found everywhere. Panels of authors shared their experiences in topics ranging from how they broke into publishing to how it is possible to fracture an old-fashioned fairy tale into something edgy that has pertinence in today’s market.
The workshop schedule was equally varied. Selecting which ones to attend is always difficult because there’s always more than one at the same time. I managed to attend three sessions and each one had something new and intriguing to offer.
- BREAKING INTO MYSTERY offered insight into how an author might stretch a story ending into something that deepened the reader’s sense of completion but still offering a hint or taste of something left unresolved. The presenter used some very effective excerpts of well-known and lesser-known stories that really illustrated how the reader could sink into multiple levels of meaning.
- PROSPEROUS WRITING IDEAS was an interesting discussion of how many methods and routes there are to establishing ourselves as writers in today’s market. In this session the presenter emphasized the value of making the small successes count in a cumulative way as much as the BIG successes.
- STARTING A SERIES was the workshop I found most interesting because it offered ideas for writing series fiction. There were some clever examples of what-not-to-do-or-you’ll-be-sorry-later ideas from an experienced author who learned the hard way that if you write a story that might become a series, think first and make your life easier.
There were many author meet-and-greet opportunities, book signings and readings, and lots of chatter and socializing. Wordstock is a fun and relaxing low-key event and so inexpensively priced that there is something for everyone and if you want to do it all, that’s manageable too. You don’t even need to bring a bag – for a $1.00 donation you could have your choice of nifty totes to cart away all those samples and seconds.
One of my favorite things about Wordstock is the fact that it’s designed to appeal to children as well as adults, so next year plan to visit and bring along your kids. There are bookstalls for children of all ages. Special events are designed around writing and reading, and this year there was even an adventure in book construction. Storytelling takes place on several stages and the atmosphere of fun dribbles over into the crowd.
Stacks of books are available in every genre and style, dozens of authors slip through the audience rubbing literary goodness on all and sundry. Writing contests, flash fiction prompts, and competitions were offered by local writing organizations. Agents, publishers, and writers of all interests mill around and feel all wordy. Buttons and stickers abound, the one that really caught my eye said Read a F$&@ING book.
Wordstock is a good time. You should come, right? Go ahead and put it on the calendar for next year. If you don’t, I’ll stick one of those bumper stickers on your car. You don’t really want to risk it, do you?