This week, I renew my pilgrimage to Santa Barbara Writers Conference — #SBWC17. The impetus for this pilgrimage requires a little backstory.
I wasn’t the best student through high school. Some of the roots go a bit deeper but suffice it to say I did just enough to get by, and never really invested the effort to learn how to write effectively. Though I have always been a rabid reader, I even flunked a creative writing class and was told by the instructor that I couldn’t write. I suppose I could deflect some of this and argue if the teacher had taken even a minimal amount of interest in ‘teaching’ he might have challenged me to learn and improve. But, I must admit, the seventeen/eighteen-year-old me would likely have told him to go sit on a short stick.
Fast forward a few years, and I’ve returned from the USAF and enrolled at Santa Barbara’s community college. Initially with the intent of pursuing a career in law enforcement, but ultimately finding my way to my favorite subject, history. Working through the usual general education courses, I struggled initially with the basic English writing requirements. I was fortunate to find a genuine teacher, who after challenging me – “You’re too fucking smart not to be able to write…” He took me under his wing and set me on a three-semester remedial path to learning how to construct my thoughts on paper, a path that sent me down a career in academia. He did that through writing fiction.
Though I enjoyed it immensely, I abandoned any interest in writing fiction. I did excel in research and writing through my academic career, and into my career in administration, and will forever credit Royce Adams & Mace Perona for that.
Jump forward again, to late 2004, I got bit by a bug. The seeds of a story rattled around in my head so vividly I couldn’t shake it. So, I reverted to the tools I had, and started outlining. Not with the intent of producing anything real, but to get it out of my head. Two pages became five. Five became ten. Ten became fifty. When I reached that point, I shared the document with (yes) my mother. She urged me to attend a one-day writers workshop.
That one day workshop started a journey that brings me back to, this week, and SBWC. Over these past twelve years, I’ve learned much. Shared and collaborated. Become a member of this community of writers. And developing my own small tribe of lunatics, who have been referenced and credited in a posting on my author’s page. Oh! And that initial bug became a thousand-page brain-dump, broken into four, still incomplete, novels. I’ve learned much since those early brain-dumping days, and need to rewrite – because that’s what writers do, we write and rewrite until it’s done.
This page is about Curating the Muse. Identifying those things that spark story, character, emotion, the need to put pixels in some order on a screen and share. I keep coming back to this Community of Writers because it feeds that muse. It fans the flame. The burning need to get these voices and characters rattling around in my head out where others can enjoy them.
I won’t go into listing all those who have pushed me along this path. You all know who you are, and I will, again, thank you for your generosity, wisdom, and support. I will encourage anyone reading, if you have the urge to write, and need a place to start learning the craft, the business, and the capacity to manage it within yourself, there is no better place to start than with the band-o-lunatics that comprise the Community of Writers at SBWC. Dates for next year are already on their site.