Well, what a conference it was again – The Writers’ Digest Conference, 2016, in New York City. I have flown home from my third conference with so much new knowledge and motivation!
Kwame Alexander, Keynote Speaker
Where to start? There is only one place, and that’s with my personal favourite hour with the keynote speaker, Kwame Alexander.
I won’t list Kwame’s extensive writing career on this post but you can find his Wiki entry here.
Kwame is a world-renowned writer of poetry and children’s fiction and the winner of the Newbery Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to American children’s literature. So, he was more than qualified to do the keynote! It really was an honour that he shared his time with us writers.
He was hilarious! Funny and inspirational. The thing is, Kwame knew the pain of rejection in the literary world. Even his father, a publisher, said no to his first book! So many would give up in the face of rejection, yet Kwame developed his own ethos which was to say YES! to everything and anything. Honestly! Every opportunity was met head-on with a ‘can do’ attitude.
The lesson I learned from Kwame was this: We should open our minds on our writing journey. New paths will open up ahead and, if we take them, even though we have no idea of our destination––will we fail? If we fail, how the hell will we pick ourselves up?––we should say YES! If we don’t, then we will always be limited by our own fear and lack of confidence. This was my interpretation of his talk, others might have taken away a different message and that’s okay. We each take from experience and from life, that which we personally need at this stage of our lives, and that’s the beauty of really listening and learning from others.
There were many other incredible speakers, too many to list here. Yes, some seminars gave conflicting information to other seminars (e.g. to outline or not to outline) but, again, it goes back to taking from something like this what you want. What sits well with you is what is important.
Aside from the speakers, I had the privilege of meeting other writers and what a fabulous group they were! Again, too many to mention but a wave across the pond to Ron, Kent, Erin and so many others.
One special lady I met who deserves the biggest hurrah! is the Statue of Liberty. I’d wanted to see her for so long and finally did so!
Finally, I’ll spend some time now collating all the information I brought home with me. I think I’ll go again next year although I hope it’s back at the Roosevelt. 🙂