All of us at DGLM travel to writers’ conferences several times a year. I’ve gone to places as exciting and diverse as Wichita and Richmond, Chicago and Scottsdale, but last weekend was the first time I had to fly across the ocean to chat up authors. I spent three days in frigid Geneva, which is as lovely as it was cold, attending the Geneva Writers Conference. Typically, I groused and whined for months about the trip prior to boarding my Swiss Int’l flight. I mean, really, why couldn’t a writers’ conference in February be held in Hawaii, Bermuda, even South Florida? And, of course, as my trip got closer I obsessively checked weather reports that told of the deadly cold spell that has Europe in its grip. Did I mention there was a lot of whining?
So, how thrilled was I to find myself in a gorgeous setting—cold, yes, but picturesque and charming, with views of the Alps and an icy Lake Geneva—among truly fascinating people who were as engaged, smart, and serious a bunch of writers as I’ve ever encountered. Individuals from all over the world gathered at Webster University to attend panels and workshops by the likes of Colin Harrison of Scribner, author Dinty Moore, British agent Hannah Westland, novelist Nick Barlay, guerilla publisher and author David Applefield, and many other brilliant authors and publishing insiders who came together to share their insights and expertise with kindness, generosity, and intelligence.
I had a great time, but I also came away with a refreshed perspective on our business and the creative process so many of us are engaged in daily. Seeing how the life experiences and the cultural backgrounds of those present informed their writing, their questions, their goals was incredibly edifying. I was struck again by the fact that dedication to craft and love of language and ideas is something we all share, regardless of our national boundaries or personal circumstances. A clichéd observation? Perhaps. But I did come back to New York with a renewed love and respect for the business I’m in and for the writers I work with as well as a determination to keep my own intellectual borders open.
My only complaint? Not enough strong coffee! But that’s a small price to pay for an experience that I’ll treasure.