I’ve told you guys before about the writers conference where I sort of grew up as a writer. The Santa Barbara Writers Conference is a week-long, very intense workshop, highly focused on craft. Its real strength has always been in the variety of workshops available, and the freedom of students to wander from one to the other until they find the one that fits. There are workshops that focus on style, romance, poetry, YA/MG, children’s literature, literary fiction, travel writing, creative non-fiction, memoir, dramatic structure and play writing, screen writing, and–of course–speculative fiction. There is something for everyone, and a qualified instructor to teach it. It is particularly specfic-friendly, for such a general conference–Ray Bradbury opens the conference every single year, and SBWC is delighted to count Christopher Moore among its alumni (he has come back to teach a Master Class in years past.) There are three sessions per day–the morning and afternoon workshops are three hours each, and the nighttime (“Pirate”) workshops go from 9:00 p.m. until everyone has read, which is sometimes not much before the sun comes up.
I invariably ended up in Matt Pallamary’s “Phantastic Fiction” class in the mornings, usually Dale Griffith Stamos and Abe Polsky’s “Dramatic Structure” in the afternoons, and if I wasn’t totally exhausted at the end of the day, John Reed’s Pirate Workshop (wine is encouraged) at night.
The conference has changed hands, and has been on hold for two years to allow it to reorganize and the economy to recover a little bit. This year it’s back on, scaled down and moved to a new location (membership is capped at 200 this year.) I won’t be able to attend as a student or a staff member this time (I spent three years on the staff, first as Volunteer Coordinator and later as Merchandise Coordinator.) There’s too much else going on this summer, but the idea of not being a part of it at all is just too sad a thought. SBWC is home to me.
As I was thinking about it, I had an idea. The idea grew into a daydream, and then into a hope. Then I wrote an email.
Sometimes you just have to ask for what you want and see what happens.
The result is that I will be speaking to Matt’s class as an industry guest. :) My career has come on a bit in the years since the conference was last held, and I’m in a position to answer the questions that I had when I first started attending as a student. I’ll probably stick around for the critique session, and hang out to get to know the new batch of students better. John will likely come with me, to meet the local SFF writers and check out this conference I’ve been yammering on about.
SBWC has a particular attachment to the term “pay it forward,” as one of its long-time faculty members is Catherine Ryan Hyde, who wrote the book by that title. I was happy to serve as a volunteer, and then on Staff, and I’m so excited to be going back in a guest capacity, to carry on a long tradition of paying it forward. Many thanks to my first teacher, Matt Pallamary, for making it happen.