Writ­ing Some­thing that Mat­ters

RSWLiving - - Contents - Paula Michele Bo­lado is a free­lance writer and pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tor liv­ing in South­west Florida. FOR MORE INFO Sani­bel Is­land Writ­ers Con­fer­ence 239-590-7421; fgcu.edu/siwc/

Au­thor Ann Hood, this year’s key­note speaker at the Sani­bel Is­land Writ­ers Con­fer­ence, likes to urge as­pir­ing writ­ers to be brave in their writ­ing and write some­thing that mat­ters. “If you don’t write some­thing that does mat­ter, no one is go­ing to care,” she says.

Hood, the New York Times best-selling au­thor of sev­eral works of fic­tion and non­fic­tion, in­clud­ing The Ital­ian Wife,

The Knit­ting Cir­cle and Morn­ingstar:

Grow­ing up with Books, is among the new pre­sen­ters at this year’s event, the 13th an­nual con­fer­ence to be held on Sani­bel. Un­der the long­time di­rec­tion of Tom DeMarchi from Florida Gulf Coast Univer­sity, the 2018 ver­sion will host re­cur­ring pre­sen­ters, as well as many new au­thors and work­shops.

Writ­ers who present ev­ery year in­clude Steve Al­mond, John Dufresne, Lynne Bar­rett, Christo­pher Schelling and Darin Strauss. “They kill it in the class­room,” ac­cord­ing to DeMarchi.

New pre­sen­ters in­clude Emily Black, Tod Gold­berg, Ma­jor Jack­son, Tom McAllister, Alas­tair Moock, An­nemarie Ní Chur­reáin, Jan­uary Gill O’Neil, Jane Roper, Michael Ruhlman and Mark Evan Schwartz. “All of them have been ei­ther on the wait­ing list for a long time, or they were highly rec­om­mended by an­other pre­sen­ter,” DeMarchi says.

As key­note speaker at the con­fer­ence, Hood plans to dis­cuss the whys of writ­ing. “I like to talk about why we write, why we ex­plore what we do, why it’s im­por­tant to write and why it’s im­por­tant to read,” she says. “And part of the way I talk about that is my own jour­ney as a writer and, of course, the themes I write about. The rea­son I talk about this is not to con­grat­u­late my­self or ex­pose my­self, but rather for the writ­ers in the au­di­ence to be braver, be­cause with­out be­ing brave, and writ­ing the hard stuff, you’re not go­ing to write some­thing that res­onates and lasts. “So, my hope is al­ways to urge peo­ple to take risks to be brave in their writ­ing, in their hearts and in their lives, and to write some­thing that mat­ters be­cause it’s hard—when you sit alone in your room day af­ter day mak­ing stuff up—to be­lieve that there is some per­son out there who is go­ing to read what you wrote and it’s go­ing to mat­ter to them.” When asked to ex­pound on her writ­ing process, Hood re­sponds: “One of the things I think that new writ­ers hope for [or] are some­times even ad­vised, is kind of wait for the muse to hit and write any­thing, rather than be more thought­ful in the process. I don’t mean make an out­line, but … just bethought­ful. I don’t like the whole spaghetti against the wall and see if it’s cooked the­ory. I spend an aw­ful lot of time think­ing about my story— think­ing about char­ac­ter and plot and how to move the story—and I mean re­ally think­ing, not ( just) put­ting words to pa­per. I prob­a­bly spend a year on the first 50 to 75 pages. Once I get to that mag­i­cal point, which varies from book to book but it’s al­ways un­der page 100, then I can go on.”

Hood’s lat­est book, pub­lished in June, is a young adult novel with a Beatles-themed ti­tle: She Loves

You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah). Her new­est adult novel, pub­lished in 2016, is

The Book That Mat­ters Most, a novel whose pro­tag­o­nist is a mem­ber of a book club where each mem­ber must present the book that mat­ters most to them. Her new­est non­fic­tion book, Morn­ingstar: Grow­ing up with Books (2017), is a col­lec­tion of es­says that ex­plores which books have made a last­ing im­pres­sion on her life.

The Sani­bel Is­land Writer’s Con­fer­ence is sched­uled this year for Novem­ber 8-11 at BIG ARTS and the Sani­bel Pub­lic Li­brary. Work­shop top­ics in­clude fic­tion, po­etry, song­writ­ing, chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture, jour­nal­ism, screen­writ­ing, cre­ative non­fic­tion and pub­lish­ing and edit­ing. It is open to as­pir­ing writ­ers at all stages of de­vel­op­ment.

Ann Hood

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