Writers conferences are not what you might expect. At least, that is true for the West Virginia Writer's Conference. When I think of a conference for writers, I think of authors earnestly reading their work, people in odd clothing and wild hair hurrying from one workshop to another, and poets gathered under trees and looking moodily into the distance. I also expect cafeteria type meals, lots of coffee and earnest conversations in the booksale area.
You can probably find all of the above at the West Virginia conference, but you will also find the unexpected: an elderly man with his own vision of creation drawing caricatures of people he chooses to draw, a blues musician sharing conversation with a mountain poet, a woman on roller skates zooming by, geese everywhere (and be careful where you step). You might also find a bonfire with young interns making s'mores, a crowded hall where ventroliquists, storytellers, poets, actors and others present zany, touching, funny, sad or just plain weird acts. You will listen to country music by a soulful husband and wife duo, hear a composer of symphonies stroking her guitar and singing in a voice like an angel. You might happen on a white-haired handsome man reading from his just published, fascinating, twisted novel, accompanied by the blues musician who knows every beat of the story and coaxes the perfect notes from his guitar.
You might hear the whippoorwill call as the moon ascends, and see the mist rise from the creeks. You might look over your shoulder for the headless dog of Tug Fork or other spirits that roam these hills. You might even see the sun's edge peek over the horizon and stumble off to bed only to rise a few hours later to begin another day.
Of course, these things only happen if you are at the conference, and if you are open to the unexpected gifts that come from being with writers and musicians.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.