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We are encouraged that weather forecasts are for warmer, clear, and sunny weather on Saturday!

Pre-registration ends at midnight tonight.

We will accept walk-ins on Saturday.

And we have a limited number of slots open for meetings with agents and Randy Zucco and for discussions of legal issues with Hun Ohm. If you are interested in meeting with an agent or Randy, please bring a couple of pages of your fiction book or your non-fiction book proposal, whichever is applicable.

New flash fiction

We have published a flash fiction contribution by Tamara Stenn.

We are in the process of finalizing meeting times with agents, Randy Zucco, and Hun Ohm. By Thursday everyone who has pre-registered for the conference and is still waiting will be contacted with details.

We are closing pre-registration Thursday, but until then are still accepting people who want to meet with agents, Randy, or Hun.

It is possible some meetings may still be possible for walk-ins on Saturday and we will make an announcement to that effect if there are any openings after pre-registration ends.

New flash memoir

We have published a new piece by Siegfried Haug.

Jennifer Browdy, Ph.D. is a professor of comparative at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, focusing on global women’s literature, spiritual ecology and social and environmental activism through the arts. She will lead a workshop on purposeful memoir at this year’s WriteAngles conference next Saturday. She has written the following account about her writing.

Since the 1960s, it’s been common knowledge that the personal is political – meaning, what happens in our personal lives is shaped by the larger social politics of our society, and our choices as individuals can in turn affect the political landscape.

When I woke up to the climate crisis, the environmental crisis and the Sixth Great Extinction, round about 2011, it became clear to me that a third “P” was needed: the personal is political and is also planetary.

We live our lives enmeshed not only in a social landscape, but also in a physical landscape, and how we live our individual lives affects the well-being not only of other humans, but also of all the myriad interconnected living beings on Earth.

It was a big wake-up call, to understand that all the effort I’d been putting towards human rights and social justice would be moot if our climate was wrecked, our food chains destroyed and our Earth poisoned, looted and denuded of life.

In 2011, I had already been working on my memoir for three years. It was a memoir, I thought, about growing up with privilege, and about having my eyes opened as a young adult to the suffering of others. It was about awakening to the importance of being an ally to those with less social power.

Once I became aware of the environmental crisis, I understood that there was a whole huge realm of suffering that was even more dire, and more in need of solidarity and alliance.

Who would speak for the truly voiceless in our human-dominated planet – the birds and the bees, the whales, and the coral reefs, the trees and other plants that make the oxygen we all need to survive?

My memoir shifted as I began working to understand how it had happened that I, such a “nature girl” as a child, had been socialized into forgetting all about this essential dimension of our lives. I realized that the way the planetary had receded into the background in my own life was replicated a billionfold in the lives of most people on Earth.

Working on my memoir helped me to see that what we need, as individuals and as a global society, is to bring the personal, political and planetary into alignment – meaning, we have to understand how our personal choices are shaped by and affect both the social and environmental landscapes in which we live.

This profound interconnection is expressed by the Buddhist concept of “inter-being.” We “inter-are” with everything else on the planet. The Western attitude of individualism, separatism and exceptionalism is an illusion bred by the arrogant thinkers of the so-called Enlightenment, which was in fact the beginning of a 500-year period of gathering darkness, leading us to the crisis moment we face today.

No matter what you think your memoir is about, we have all, inescapably, been part of the political and planetary patterns of our lifetimes. I was born in 1962, the year Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published, just after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and just before the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X. I was too young to understand the tumult around me in my early years, and yet these political and planetary happenings shaped who I would become.

Purposeful memoir that aligns the personal, political and planetary is not only concerned with the past, but also with the present as a springboard to the future. We take stock of our life histories, as individuals and as members of various Earth communities, in order to envision how we can take what we’ve learned, share it with others through our writing, and move into the next stage of our lives with the explicit goal of, as I put it in my memoir, “doing hope with others”: thriving on the personal, political and planetary levels.

This kind of memoir is a slow, deep, grounded form of activism, and I believe it’s just as important as marching and shouting and signing petitions. The more of us who take the time to do the deep work of understanding our own life histories and how our individual lives have intertwined with the larger human and non-human communities on the planet, the stronger we will stand as Gaian warriors who fight for Life.

At this year’s WriteAngles conference, I’ll be leading a workshop in purposeful memoir that will invite participants to align the personal, political and planetary in their own life experiences, beginning with childhood and adolescence. How have our lives have been shaped by the families, communities and places we have lived? How can we use purposeful memoir as a springboard to launch us more intentionally into the thriving future we yearn for?

New flash memoir

We have just published a flash memoir by Elaine Reardon.

Jupiter’s Slut will be moderating this year’s panel on Writing About Sex. She was interviewed by Joan Axelrod-Contrada.

Why did you become a writer? When did the writing bug first bite you?

I’ve been a writer since grade school. I published a chapbook of poetry in high school. I got an MFA in creative writing after my daughter went to school. Every working woman faces the life/work balancing act. Sometimes I’ve been able to write more than others, but it’s always been a passion. However, I was scared I couldn’t really make a living writing. I’ve done everything from cooking on sailing ships to teaching mathematics. I’d planned to invest in enough real estate that I wouldn’t have to depend on my writing income. When I was getting close to forty I realized my someday was always in the future, like chasing a rainbow. I decided to start living my life as a writer now. That changed everything.

You’ve had quite the varied background! How did you get started writing about sex?

The biggest surprise that came out of my MFA was a love of non-fiction writing. I’d never tried it. It sounded dry and I didn’t think I’d like it. I was so wrong. My creativity spikes when confined by strictures of nonfiction. I had tried my hand at everything from poetry and short stories, to novel writing. I’ve always been drawn to write about what is most beautiful, most mysterious, or most painful. For me, sex was a mix of all three, but I was particularly interested in figuring out why it was such a painful part of my life. I didn’t think it should be. I didn’t want it to be. My work falls under the category of memoir, but it’s more nonfiction than most. I write to a central question, using my life like a research project. I spent an entire year researching Masturbation Monday before I started writing.

What are you trying to accomplish with “Masturbation Monday”?

With Masturbation Monday, I’m putting all the new age and self-help rhetoric about self-love and self-acceptance to the test. All my life I’d believed I had loved and respected myself. But I was suppressing the parts of myself I was scared of. My sexuality was so crippled, I couldn’t even masturbate without feeling guilty and selfish. I felt judged, even alone in my bedroom. The book was an exercise in asking, what if I accepted myself unconditionally? I recorded my successes and failures in ways that make me laugh. Laughter is a powerful dispeller of shame.

Tell us about your pen name Jupiter’s Slut.

Jupiter’s a planet associated with expansion, growth, insight, learning, honor, and hope. I thought of myself as a slut before I even lost my virginity. It’s a packed word that holds a lot of baggage for people, myself included. Now when I use the word slut, it embodies an acronym I made up. S.L.U.T = Shameless Luminous Untamed Truth.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

“Butt in chair.” That was advice from Jane Yolen, an incredible children’s writer. The advice holds for all writers. You must sit down and write.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a few projects. I’ve got them lined up like a race of turtles. One almost ready for an editor, another in the free-write phase. Another is out being shopped around. This week I’ve been working on a keynote address and on a book on spirituality. My religious upbringing was a big part in why I shut myself down sexually at a young age. I didn’t realize I’d shut down spiritually too. Once I started freeing my sexuality, my spiritual life started flooding back in. I didn’t want it, but there it was. Now I wouldn’t wish the joy and peace away now. I love it, but I do find talking about spirituality even more embarrassing than talking about sex, and every bit as personal. When we talk about deep self-love and acceptance we really are talking about spirituality. Masturbation Monday is about that, within the realm of sexuality, where most of us haven’t seen models for self-acceptance. When I set myself on a path of investigating my sexuality, I was also investigating my spirituality, I just didn’t know it yet.

You’ll be moderating this year’s panel on Writing About Sex. Can you tell us a little about what you’re planning?

In the wake of the #metoo movement, it’s clear that silence around sex leads to an environment where victims are more easily victimized. Speaking and writing about sex in ways that steers clear of shame isn’t just good writing, it’s a cultural imperative. This is an opportunity for writers of any kind to hear from experts on writing about sex.

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