When I was trying in vain to explain how challenging it is to put on the San Francisco Writers Conference, someone suggested it was like doing ten weddings. That sounds about right.
But like every year, it was magic time at the SFWC. Why? As the brilliant Geoffrey Rush says in one of my favorite movies, Shakespeare in Love: “It’s a mystery.” But the elements that make this magic possible are clear: the writers, the presenters, the program, the hotel, and the city.
More than 300 writers came from thirty-one states and seven other countries, many of whom have come to previous conferences. Writers are the most important people in publishing because they make it go. Without their courage, creativity, discipline, and commitment, publishing wouldn’t exist. They’re also the most important people at the conference for the same reason: it too wouldn’t exist without them.
Their passion for making magic by transforming an idea into a reality by putting black on white and for learning how to write, get published, and make their work successful is what makes the conference possible. They trusted us with their time and money; we had to justify their faith in us.
They came to learn, network, share their work and ideas, and have a good time, and they did. We encourage them to meet as many writers, presenters, and volunteers (who are also writers) as they can.
The conference is lucky to have presenters who provide valuable information and enjoy networking with attendees during the conference. The conference was blessed with more than 100 presenters, which as far as we know is the greatest number of presenters in relation to the number of attendees at any conference.
Attendees had the pleasure of hearing two outstanding keynoters: Dorothy Allison and David Morrell. They brought immense authority to their talks. They told attendees what they needed to hear about writing and publishing, but their talks were expressions of who they are. They said what they would have said if they were talking to one person instead of 300. They know how to connect with an audience, so their talks were great examples of what writers should aspire to when they speak.
More than seventy breakout sessions covered a wide variety of topics in fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, poetry, marketing, and technology, so attendees had a wide variety of sessions to choose from, depending on their needs and interests.
The four-star InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel on the top of Nob Hill is a beautiful setting for the conference, and attendees enjoy being there. The food and service help.
It rained until Sunday, but even in the rain, San Francisco is a gorgeous setting for the conference. Although there were presenters from around the country, most of them came from the Bay Area, which is America’s second largest publishing center. The Bay Area is the best place in the world to be a writer.
There’s a flourishing literary culture and a wealth of authors, publishers, publicists, agents, freelance editors, and other publishing professionals, as well as the best collection of independent booksellers in the country.
This isn’t everything that went into the conference, and all of it together may not sound like the makings of magic. It doesn’t begin to capture the sense of excitement, the pleasure and inspiration—sometimes life-changing–the conference gave to attendees, the knowledge gained, or the value of the relationships it helped create. The same thing happens every year and inspires us to keep tyring to figure how to prevent the problems that occur and do it better next year. Wish us luck!
CDs and MP3 of the conference will be available shortly at www.sfwritersu.com.