Over the past weekend we here at Can the Man made an effort to connect with other local writers from the Western New York area. Spencer, Loren and I attended the Vineyard Writers’ Conference, which is annually hosted at the elegant Patterson Library in Westfield, New York. Having never previously attended a writing conference, I wanted to give our readers some of my impressions, and hopefully encourage anyone interested in writing to get out there and connect with people who share their interest.
I admit that I was somewhat reticent upon agreeing to attend the conference. The style of writing that we produce here at Can the Man is intense, and intended to positively impact the way that people think. In light of this, I was doubtful that the conference would cater specifically to our type of media, and I was nervous about developing any rapport with the other writers. Despite my own concerns, upon arriving at the library on Sunday the nineteenth, my initial restraint instantly dissipated.
I cannot say enough positive things about the atmosphere that was created throughout the conference. Peter Baker, the host/organizer of the event, did an excellent job of crafting a structure for the seminar that was equal parts informal and productive. As individual authors, we were able to choose from 3 different morning and afternoon forums that varied greatly in terms of topic. I chose to attend the lectures on e-publishing and marketing, both of which contained a great deal of useful information for my specific type of writing. In contrast, there were also forums that focused on completely different aspects of literature, such as poetry and literary perspective. This division of the conference into sections meant that various authors of diverse genres could all find something valuable to their unique pursuits.
In addition to the morning and afternoon seminars, there were also general lectures given by respected authors from around the area. Gary Earl Ross, the keynote speaker, offered the group a powerful reading from an unpublished work of short fiction and presented a great deal of advice concerning publishing and writing passion. It was wonderfully useful for me to be exposed to a wide variety of writers and writing styles throughout the course of the day. There were authors present who had a number of different inspirations and views of literature. Some people wanted to make others laugh, some wanted to catalogue their journeys through life, while certain authors had more serious goals for their work. Despite all of these different avenues of writing, the passion that was shared by all of the attendees made the conference enjoyable and rewarding. Right now I may not have any comedic goals in my writing, but some day I might. Now I have a better perspective on what writing humorous prose entails.
With all of this information and passion woven between good food and a wonderful setting, I have to recommend the annual conference to anyone who has even a slight interest in writing. It was hands down the most beneficial way that I can recall spending 45 dollars.