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Chesapeake Writers Conference – Day 3

Day three is in the books down here at the Chesapeake Writers Conference.

Kids and Food

I avoided the kids again this morning, as I went to another unnamed fast food restaurant to enjoy a quality breakfast sandwich of some type. This also allowed me to get a little more welcome sleep. Always appreciated.

I skipped lunch to go on my brief excursion around the County, so didn’t see the kids there, either.

At dinner, I showed up just before the dining hall opened at 5:30. I was hungry after not eating much for lunch, plus I wanted to beat the boys there, which I did. By the time they arrived around 5:45 or so, I was pretty much done eating.

My co-participants had begun streaming in around that time and the retired teacher I described the other day, told me that the boys would be singing at 6. I waited until after to get oatmeal raisin cookies so I could get a video of them singing. I won’t be posting it here, but take my word for it — they’re really good.

Craft Talk

No craft talk today. Workshops were done in the morning and in the afternoon, there was an organized hike up to Calvert Cliffs State Park. Of course, you’re not surprised I didn’t go.

I heard some folks went kayaking. You’re not surprised I didn’t want any of that action, either. That kayaking action. No thanks.


Today, Angela gave us a brief lesson about the New Journalism. One of my favorite terms in literature and writing. That and “Creative Nonpoetry,” a term I incorrectly attributed in class. That was the idea of Patricia Hempl.

We had a great discussion about form and truth in nonfiction and discussed Joan Didion’s Goodbye to All That. What a great essay. Prose like this and James Baldwin’s Letter from a Region of My Mind energized me when I was younger; I wanted to write like that. I still do. I almost felt like I was back home and doing my summer reading for 9th grade English class, like I was in class marveling over how people could write such prose. I was rediscovering both a piece of writing I admire as well as some part of my own passion for writing.

I needed it because the freewrite at the beginning of workshop and the prompted write at the end both followed Natalie Goldberg’s 7th rule of writing practice. Those were painful. I won’t rehash them here, nor did I read the first one in class (the second, Angela described as intense). The content may eventually show up in more formal pieces of writing down the line. Still, I needed the pick-me-up that the discussion gave me.


Angela and Jerry Gabriel both read. Not surprisingly, I was drawn more to Angela’s lyric essay. I love those. And we just so happen to be covering those in class tomorrow. That’s going to be a good time.

On Friday, I’m going to ask her about doubt, whether she has any (don’t all writers?) and how she overcomes it. The artist-teachers have covered much technical and artistic ground in their lessons thus far, but still have not covered something that affects many writers, myself included: how to keep yourself coming back over and over again.

Yes, I’ve read books by Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg and I’m a huge believer in habit as a driving force for getting yourself there, but sometimes it’s hard to face that page. I’d like to know how Angela (and even the other writers there) face it down and still manage to get their work done. Moreover, how they manage to hit the send button for their agent, editor(s), or whomever. That’s what I want to know.

Other good stuff …

The parking situation has become comical in how much it’s changing. Public Safety came calling last night, asking where I was parked. They wanted to be totally sure this time nobody was parked behind the townhouses. I was out in the lot where I was told we could park. However, this morning, we received an email telling us we could park at DPC, right near where we’re staying, like within a hundred feet, if we could find a spot there.

So this afternoon, I got a really good spot. But I gave it up before dinner. However, there was another good spot afterwards, which I gladly took. Weather Channel app says it’s supposed to be raining/storming in the morning and being able to walk a short distance and grab the car is a much more desirable choice than having to walk across campus to dining.

Hopefully they won’t change their minds again.


After the reading, the young lady participant I previously described (the Improv thing) and I chatted in the dining hall parking lot. She says she’s convinced now that she wants to write and will be changing her major from psychology. She said she thought she could just go and get a Ph.D. and go practice, but what she really wants to do is write (she does want to write about the mind of serial killers, so the classes she’s taken in psych should help in some way towards her goal).

Her father, she said, had wanted her to major in computer science because of the number of jobs in technology –growing in the area, as I’ve said– and she’d taken several classes in the major, finding them boring.

She said she was glad to find out that the kind of writing she did in grade school wasn’t the kind of writing she would have to do in the “real world.”

I was so happy for her. I told her, yes! (and I rarely use exclamation points), write. Please write. If that’s what you want to do, please. Don’t be like me and allow the voices of others to steer you away from something that’s your passion, I told her. She probably didn’t need to hear me say it, but I’m sure I saw myself at her age with that kind of pressure and needed to say it to the 17, 18 year old me, the 22 year old me. Even the 38 year old me. Definitely in this place.


I took over 200 pictures between campus, Historic St. Mary’s City, and Point Lookout and before I could get them uploaded into Google Drive, I ran out of space. I’ll figure it out and get a few online.