Perhaps I can pull you here with the words of a literary giant whose life we’re all still reveling in. The wake of her passing reminds us the value of words. Histories, societies and memories are little more than their stories. But there is little more to be.
It’s words that define us, release us, shape us.
Unfortunately, a life of words has come to be less a trove of riches and more a surefire way to default on your student loans.
Despite a lifelong passion for writing and an undergraduate focus on the craft, I’ve wound up in a world without the opportunity to pursue this part of myself. The fruits of my unpaid internships seem more accurately referred to as “debts.”
As most of you know, the past year has been filled with unforeseen circumstances. Between surgically-mandated unemployment and the cost of 15 hours of therapy per week—every week—I’ve exhausted what savings I did have, and have few prospects (for the time being) to earn more.
So, when a writing professor I’d had at St. Mary’s College of MD called me a few weeks ago to share news of an upcoming conference, I was quickly scared off by the price tag.
After some gentle cajoling and an afternoon of brainstorming, I decided to try.
The Chesapeake Writer’s Conference
WePay/Gofundme Feeg> is a week of craft talks, lectures, panel discussions, and readings, as well as daily intensive workshops in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The conference is led by credentialed, respected faculty members from MFA programs across the country. All established authors in their own rights, there are national book award finalists and winners of various other acclaimed literary prizes among them.
The conference will provide guidance intellectually and direction for my writing (which as of now amounts to little more than overstuffed nightstands and appreciation for the places—both cathartic and exotic—it has taken me in the past). It will provide sustenance in the way of wisdom, round tables, opportunities to perform, and riverside reflecting (on who we might all be if we took the time to nurture ourselves).
I’ve lived in faraway places… in the woods, on the ocean, on the road, and in my head. I’ve known the warmth of people once foreign becoming family; I’ve felt the chill as family became foreign. I’ve fought good fights and fallen down, I’ve slept on the floors of Chinese trains and watched thunderstorms from leaky canoes in the Amazon. I’ve been welcomed in one-room Indian homes to dance and eat and love. I’ve walked out of South African neighborhoods built on a history of division and condescension.
The beauty of this world is in its mastery of contradiction:
how we are thrust into the unfamiliar and swept up in the sweet knowledge that we have much more in common than in conflict—much more together than at war.
Without words, these memories are lost in me. These truths have no way to connect us. The stories that compel me and have taught me how to live, fall short. We need to write to share. To commiserate. For comfort and for hope. We need to write because even in our aloneness, we are all in this profound human community.
So help me to remember why I write. Help me to hone a craft that I've pushed aside during years spent working in fields other than my own.
Help me to find this community again, to learn from them, and to bring what truths they teach me back home, wherever that may be.
Please contact me with any questions, or if you think up any donation-rewards you’d prefer! Thank you for showing up, for taking the time to read this, and if you are able to support me—in whatever capacity—thank you, thank you, thank you! Your kindness will Not be overlooked.
Conference Registration: $750
Housing Fee: $320
Food Fee: $165
Gofundme/Wepay Fee: $112
Travel/Personal Gas Bill: $75
And of course…
Supporting the struggle for art, words and daydreams: Priceless
My gratitude: Immeasurable
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