I wait anxiously every year. It seems to take forever to get here…until two weeks before the start. Then those two weeks fly by and the event is upon me. I pack up (way too many) clothes, my notes for panels and workshops, my laptop, phone, and chargers, and I’m off. Leaving on a jet plane for various parts of the country where I will stuff my brain full of new writing knowledge, hug friends that I only see a time or two each year, and immerse myself in everything to do with my craft.
I am talking, of course, about the Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual lesbian literature conference and this year’s was in New Orleans.
I’ve been home now for three days and it usually takes me that long to recover (introverts unite!), which is why I am only now writing this blog. Well, that and the fact that I do not enjoy blogging…
The conference was the biggest it’s ever been, which was obvious by the enormous hotel we stayed in. I’m pretty sure there were at least four other conferences going on. It was also a day longer than it used to be, so I can’t for the life of me figure out how it went by so damn fast. No matter, though. It started on Wednesday instead of Thursday and just went. Terrific panels (about coming out on the page; about writing valuable book reviews; about the art of penning the perfect kiss), awesome workshops (about plot, suspense, and structure in a mystery novel; about sex in our books; about how to write faster and sell more), and readings by new and established authors alike. Every day gave me difficult choices about what to attend and what I was okay skipping (not much).
Every year we also have a keynote speaker. This year, it was literary icon Dorothy Allison. Charming, hilarious, foul-mouthed, and unapologetic, she left many of us speechlessly in awe of her knowledge about writing as well as her wisdom about life. I wish I’d had more of a chance to sit with her. She was kind of incredible.
My brain was overloaded. In a good way.
Those four days led into Saturday night, which is the presentation of the Goldie awards, given to the finest books of the year. It’s an amazingly fun ceremony where we all get dressed to the nines and pretend we’re at the Oscars. I was honored (and completely shocked, to tell you the truth) to receive the Ann Bannon Popular Choice award for Olive Oil & White Bread. The reason it’s so humbling to get that one is because it’s voted on by the readers rather than by a panel of judges. Makes it kind of special and I was totally surprised. It was a nice cherry on top of a whirlwind of a conference that made history by having literary legends Lee Lynch, Rita Mae Brown, and Dorothy Allison all in the same room together. Surreal, to say the least.
It was four days of education, entertainment, and the chance to be surrounded by other people who do exactly what I do. New Orleans is a very cool city, albeit too hot for me, and way too humid for my hair. But I took a Historical Cocktail Tour with some friends and that was super interesting. The buildings and history of the city are enthralling. And the cocktails are pretty awesome, too.
Now, I’m home, back in my office, staring blankly at the book I’m working on. It’s par for the course. I leave such conferences excited to get back to writing, but at the same time, sapped of all energy. It’ll come back. It always does. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to the next gathering of fellow writers and my next injection of creative juices.
I’ll keep writing if you keep reading. Promise.