Writers in Conference: The Micro-Tension Of A Pause

Image - Salem, Massachusetts, 6 November 2014, by Porter Anderson
Image – Salem, Massachusetts, 6 November 2014, by Porter Anderson

Autumn And Authors Holding Their Breaths

The townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts, are busy this week pointing out to visitors their brilliant fall leaves. “They should be on the ground by now,” one longtime resident says, shaking his head. “Should have hit the grass a long time ago.”

And like the eerie pause in the pace of a colorful season, the first Writer UnboxedUn-Conference here has created an interregnum familiar to frequent delegates to writers’ conferences.

Normal life has stopped briefly for roughly 100 writers. They’ve entered a tangential space this week. Standard home-and-family-life interruptions don’t stick to these people right now. They start early in the morning, trading career anecdotes over morning coffee. Near midnight some are intent on poker games led by author and instructor John Vorhaus (Poole’s Paradise) in the Hawthorne Hotel’s basement lounge — with its determinedly below-decks shipboard decor.

It’s an Indian summer camp for adults. , this first attempt at such an event by the major Writer Unboxed community’s co-founder, Therese Walsh (The Moon Sisters). 

Not least because of an adamant, officially stated resistance to publishing-business issues, the sessions feel slightly out of time. Near a baby grand piano on the grounds of the National History Landmark House of the Seven Gables, conferees discuss craft, craft, and craft — writers’ not witches’ — under the gaze of significant Salem figures’ portraits.

Of course, as soon as you’re talking quietly with one colleague or another, it’s all…business. The digital disruption is not about the art of writing. It’s about the distribution of content. That’s business. And its transformation of the industry is something that authors ignore at their peril.

My own session on criticism (and what to take to heart and what to ignore) got pretty  businessy during our Q&A session. And how could it not? — the viability of the consumer review is a creature of the digital dynamic as harnessed by Amazon and other major retailers. And it’s the consumer review that has now largely eclipsed the mainstream-media-based phenomenon of book criticism that once was the leading evaluative mechanism of the industry.

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Writers in Conference: The Micro-Tension Of A Pause

Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.ThoughtCatalog.com



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