October 31, 2007

Wordstock (Oregon Convention Center, Nov. 8-11)

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The first year I went, I saw Caprial and John make roasted red pepper soup on a hot plate, bantering, just as they do on their cooking show. I sat in the Write Around Portland booth for a while and mastered my enthusiasm for the workshops as I told everyone that approached our table about how much I loved it. Sarah Vowell made the audience blush and guffaw simultaneously as she recounted her stories from Assassination Vacation.

The second year I went, I volunteered. I got to introduce an author when the introducer person didn't show up. I listened to Dave Eggers talk about how he wanted to write a story about a moment that he had just witnessed, when a woman approached another woman with a child, complimented her on how beautiful the child was and then asked if the child was hers. The woman paused slightly and said, no, that it was her grandchild. That moment - the moment when the woman could have said yes - that was what he wanted to write about. Those are the kinds of stories I love. Stories about the moments in life that we all experience, but don't talk about.

Wordstock connects me to authors that I am acquainted with and invites me to become friends with their work - to understand it better, to love it even more. This year, there will be a panel of authors discussing their essays from Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, my favorite food book EVER. Food writers Michael Ruhlman, Nicole Mones and Kathleen Flinn will discuss the art of food writing. A panel of authors discussing the art of investigative journalism is also on my list. Diana Abu-Jaber, Harry Shearer and one of my old PSU professors and Oregonian editor Jack Hart will also make appearances.

The schedule, filled with authors well-known and not, local and from across the country, makes my heart race and my hands shake as I bring on an anxiety attack from wanting to see every single author, take in all I can. It makes me remember that 15 years ago when I started college I wanted to be a writer. And now, in my office dealing with human resources complaints, harassment and payroll, I realize that I still want to be a writer.

I just got the Wordstock newsletter and this was part of it.

"Have you seen this book?

If you have, you should have grabbed it and run. Why? Because this is a Wordstock Red Book. We've published a limited edition of 1,000 of these books, and we're leaving them all over Portland and the surrounding areas. They are designed to inspire writers of every stripe. They're free to whomever finds them. They are also numbered, 1 to 1,000. If you're one of the lucky few to find one, bring it to Wordstock with you. Because on Sunday, November 11, at 4 PM, we're going to hold a drawing. If we call the number of your Red Book, you win a trip for two to the birthplace, final resting place, or favorite watering hole of your favorite American writer, courtesy of Wordstock and Azumano Travel. So if you need more of a reason to get out there and scour the bookstores, coffee shops, MAX trains, laundromats, athletic clubs, restaurants, and newspaper boxes of the Metro area for a Red Book, now you have it. So get moving. All you have to do is find one. "

I love this city.


Hey, It's Ansley said...

I miss Portland all the time but especially right now! So jealous that you get to see all this. Have fun and write blog entries about it so I can share a bit of the experience.

Hey, It's Ansley said...

Find one! Find one! Find one! Did you see what's in the book...from the wordstock site.

pages and pages of design meant to inspire the writer in each of us -- lists of famous first and last lines, writing exercises, excerpts from rejection letters sent to famous authors, a list of banned books, quotes from writers about writing, and on and on. The rest of the book is a journal for you to get down to work.