A post to motivate, encourage, and inspire…
In August, Literary Mama’s Creative Nonfiction Editor Rae Pagliarulo, Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant Whitney Archer, and former Blog Editor Dina Relles attended Hippocamp.
From Hippocamp’s website: “The three-day creative writing conference event features 40+ notable speakers, engaging sessions in three tracks, interactive panels, readings, social activities, networking opps and optional, intimate pre-conference workshops in Lancaster, Pa., a city rich in history, arts and culture. All of this, plus meals and snacks, bundled into a great conference rate.”
Here’s what Rae and Whitney had to say about their experiences:
It can be difficult to find the right conference to attend. How much time do I have to take out of my normal life? How much money do I need to “borrow” from our savings? Can I be sure there are enough relevant sessions for all that to be worth it? For lovers of creative nonfiction, HippoCamp might be just what you’re looking for. I recently attended the second iteration of this weekend CNF conference, held in scenic Lancaster, PA on a hot August weekend.
Like many writers, I have considered going back to school to get an MFA. However, like many writing mamas, the money and time required is overwhelming. It just isn’t going to happen any time soon. What if I still want to hone my craft, keep my feet wet in the waters of the writing life? One idea (besides winning the lottery and being able to hire a nanny, chef, and maid) that has helped is attending writing conferences near me. I’m on the East Coast and while I’m sure there are great conferences in the west, I’ve found great options within driving distance.
The brainchild of Hippocampus Magazine’s editor, Donna Talarico-Beerman, this conference seeks to act as a kind of “coming home” for nonfiction lovers. Attendees vary in age, race, and gender, and run the gamut from brand-new-novice to multiple-bestselling-author. The sessions are diverse enough to appeal to anyone as well: humor, science, ethics, editing, book pitching, self-publishing, marketing and platform building, even cross-genre tactics.
For a few hundred bucks, I can spend the weekend learning from famous and upcoming writers. I can pitch a book idea to an agent on Saturday and be home on Monday to pack my son’s school lunch. My husband and son can explore the nearby museums and parks while I listen to panels on voice, writing ethics, and research techniques. And yes, it’s not a full-fledged writing program, but it works for now.
Don’t be misled – it’s a long weekend, crammed to the absolute brim with mixers, readings, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and if you’re lucky, dinners with other attendees at some of Lancaster’s wonderful restaurants. By the time I got home Sunday, I had reached my absolute limit for sensory input and social interaction. But, I was also flying.
Is it possible, I wonder, that creative nonfiction writers are a more compassionate, welcoming bunch than other genre writers? I’m not sure if there’s any correlation, plus, I know plenty of generous and lovely poets and fiction writers. But, I do have a sneaking suspicion that love for a well-told true story, plumbed from the depths of someone’s real life, made my fellow HippoCamp attendees particularly warm and welcoming to anyone they met, and created a weirdly familiar environment for the weekend, where all strangers really were friends we hadn’t met yet.
The best part of these events is always the presenters and other attendees. HippoCamp is an intimate conference and I can easily meet other writers who work in my genre. I can say, “I work for Literary Mama,” and they tell me they’ve submitted to the site. I can put a literal face to bylines I’ve seen online. I can talk to them about their work and tell them, in person, that I love their book/article/site. I can go home away with a pile of reading, a list of new acquaintances, and more motivation and direction for my upcoming writing year.
And that’s worth a few hundred dollars.
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