Last week I went to a few sessions at Columbia College’s festival for writers. It was another generous time at what they called one of the largest free conferences for folks interested in writing and publishing. Sadly, like good gatherings, it ended.
The last session I went to consisted of a panel–including two publishers, one editor, and two agents. They talked for an hour about submissions, traditional and self-publishing, marketing, and voice. They said a lot. I wasn’t trying to write their comments or answers to questions, as much as I was taking them in. Here are a few quotes were worth capturing from the panel:
There’s no threat of books and stories going away. None.
…how it’s going to end up, I’m not too sure.
Publishing is the intersection between art and commerce.
No one place is central to the conversation.
There’s a really bright future. For every book.
There were certainly less inspiring words. But I’ll keep these and revisit them. Perhaps you will too as you write, revise, and submit.
A room of generous people, lavish with their words, though precise, all of them attentive to turns of phrase, metaphors, and descriptions and dialogue and little slices of character as expressed in five to seven minutes of reading. Students and teachers, each one accepting parts of the label emerging writer, gather and clap for their friends who stand behind the podium stammering and then flowing and for their professors who seem used to the space and the art and for that newly published novelist whose work is being read as if for the first time to a hungry audience of well-wishers. Then there is Sapphire, the bold poet whose voice stood up in the written form of a novel she said people forgot they didn’t like, and who reminded me that writers could be activists or not but that all writers needed to be good, and who remembered some of the greats by going down a notable list of influences that read like a canon because it included folks like Richard Wright and Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez.
Sapphire signing books
If you are interested, the Harold Washington Library Center will host several authors this month, one event being in connection with the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department. Among the programs remaining are an event featuring Joyce Carol Oates, discussions with Jennifer Egan, Audrey Niffenegger and Regina Taylor, as well as readings and conversation with, again, Audrey Niffenegger, Karen Tei Yamashita, Gerard Woodward, and Alexis Pride. Visit chicagopubliclibrary.org for more information.