Wednesday, June 11, 2014

At the Willamette Writers Conference, You Can Fly!

by Mary Andonian

Ever get a song in your head you can’t seem to shake?

For the past few weeks my inside voice has been doing a rousing rendition from Peter Pan. You know, the part when Wendy asks Peter how they’re going to get to Never Land, and then Peter teaches Wendy how to fly.

Peter talks about many things to help Wendy get off the ground: think your happiest thoughts, use a little pixie dust, picture snow globes and toys, and make sure to have faith and trust. And if you do (cue music), “You can fly, you can fly, you can fly…”

As writers, aren’t we a little like Wendy? Somewhere deep inside we have the imagination of children and we want to let it loose with our words. We want the words to lift off the page and into someone’s heart. It can be a story about a neglected child, a poem about nature, a harrowing adventure filled with love and loss, or even a business plan that will take a small company to the next level. But the words create the magic – the pixie dust – and before you know it, it’s in flight.

When there’s a smile in your heart
There’s no better time to start
Think of all the joy you’ll find
When you leave the world behind
And bid your cares good-bye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!” - Peter Pan

I’ve been singing “I can fly,” because our 45th annual writers’ conference is just around the corner (August 1-3) and I can tell you right now, writers are going to learn to fly.

And here’s why:

Conference Chair Stefan Feuerherdt is leading us to Never Land by moving the conference to the DoubleTree hotel, Lloyd Center. It’s scary to move to a larger place where things are new and different, but “new and different” is what takes us out of our ruts and into something creative and imaginative. It’s a good thing.

We have a new Willamette Writers president, Jenny Schrader, who is smart, witty, inspiring, and a creative genius when it comes to website design. She revamped our conference website and it looks amazing.

Alina Blankenship and Shannon Bodie added to our new look by redesigning our marketing brochure and program. Didn’t you get excited when you opened the brochure and it kept unfolding like origami to display all the many facets of the conference? I thought it rocked.

Cornelia Seigneur is bringing in – bar none – the best group of Lit Agents and Editors I have ever seen at the Willamette Writers conference. The bios read like “Who’s Who” at Publisher’s Weekly. Honestly, I’ve been a part of the conference for almost a decade and have NEVER seen a line up this stellar. If you want your words to fly with a traditional publisher, this is the year to do it!

And for you screenwriters, I’m bringing in a group of film agents, managers and producers who are representing or making hit movies and deals like you’ve never seen before. I have agencies coming that have topped the charts in deal-making on The (Tracking B) Hit List and The Black List, and one of my agents even CREATED The Blood List. You want to “levitate” into the film world? You can, and these connections will help you do it.

Jason Brick created a program that combines the best of both worlds: Learning all you can to crack the traditional publishing and film worlds, plus gather all the tools necessary to Do-It-Yourself. No matter which side you’re on, it doesn’t hurt to know as much as possible about both sides of this debate before you market your next writing project. Jason’s bringing back power players like Gordy Hoffman, Larry Brooks and Hallie Ephron, and this year he has a new LA screenwriter – Stephany Folsom – sharing her lessons on screenwriting craft and breaking into Hollywood. (And by the way, Stephany has broken in BIG this year. More on that at the conference.)

Yep. I’ve been singing lately. And so should you.

At the conference, you’ll have everything you’ll need to take your writing to new heights. “You can fly!”