The Kachemak Bay Writer's Conference was fabulous! One thing I didn't anticipate, but loved, was really getting to know other Alaskan writers better. Joan Kane (winner of a Whiting Award) was there and it was terrific to get to know her. Her book The Cormorant Hunter's Wife is beautiful. Peggy Shumaker, Sherry Simpson, and Nancy Lord were there too. We all took a great harbor cruise together and chatted about politics, poems, and the writing life. It was a real treat for me.
I got lots of good advice while I was there too. One thing that really stuck with me that several people mentioned during the week, was the importance of having a writing community. One writer said she hated networking and finally realized that poets and writers don't really "network" in the true sense of that word...they become friends. And through the years, those friendships yield opportunities. She said thinking of it this way helped her get out there and meet other writers. I like this thought...and I think she's right. In the last few months I've started corresponding with a few poets I admire (including Tom Sexton who has a new book coming out with the University of Alaska Press) and it's been wonderfully encouraging. Writing is such a solitary act, and one that requires such courage...so having others along the way struggling to do the same work is helpful. We speak the same language, we fight the same battles...it's good to have each other.
Tonight I'm feeling so grateful to be part of such a rich, writing community. There is some truly outstanding work being written in Alaska right now, and the writers I got to know this weekend proved themselves to be as generous and warm as they are talented.