It’s Upon Us.Posted: November 6, 2010
Five days. In five days I will drive to Oxford. All the months of planning, promoting, and posting about it — and it’s finally here. Four days of creative nonfiction … bringing Lee Gutkind back to the South, bringing the top leaders in America in this genre to one quaint town in the Mississippi hills, bringing agents, editors, and publishers to share their knowledge on the state of publishing today.
As a co-director of the Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference (Nov. 11-14), it has been my job to talk it up, to tell about it at every venue I have attended, every speaking engagement, and every workshop I’ve led. People who follow me on Facebook know it’s all I’ve talked about for months, except for an occasional motorcycle ride with 12 men, the grandtwins in their pumpkin costumes, and the one-thousand-dollar oil change.
All that talk — and with the other co-directors doing the same and even more of it [Neil White and Susan Cushman] — has paid off. Nearly 100 people — more with volunteers and presenters — will descend on Oxford later this week for workshops, panels, social events, Thacker Mountain Radio, and a pitch fest. Writers are coming from every corner of America…from Maine to Washington, from Florida to California. Seventeen will attend from my state of Tennessee.
One of my tasks (and what a pleasure!) as a co-director has been organizing Dinty W. Moore’s workshop on Friday. It’s manuscript critiquing, and all 12 people in the class have submitted ten pages to workshop; the essays and memoir excerpts all came to me, and I disbursed them to Dinty and to each class member, after, of course, reading a bit myself, only to discover the quality of writing we’ll experience at this conference and the passion of the writers for the genre. The class has gotten acquainted online; folks have shared about themselves in emails and many of us have friended each other on Facebook. I call them Dinty’s Dozen. The Dozen will meet for dinner before the critiquing class and will walk into the classroom knowing something about the others.
This will be my third experience with creative nonfiction in Oxford. I attended “The 5 R’s” in 2007 when Lee Gutkind first came to the South to teach. My blog started as a result of this: Lee said to start one, that blogging is creative nonfiction. I also attended the first Mid-South Creative Nonfiction Conference in Oxford in 2008, similar to this one — Lee as key speaker and many of the same presenters returning. These have been mountaintop experiences, and I have high hopes for this week!
Five days. Five days. A week from tomorrow and it will all be over. How can that be? How much can I absorb between now and then? Got to make every moment count. Network, connect, listen, learn, lift my writing to a higher level, stretch myself, take in more and more, hang on every word, grow in the genre, love it even more.