When thinking about a writing career, the first words that come to mind are usually not “conferences” or “networking.” While it’s a romantic notion to imagine authors holed up in cabins producing great works of literature all on their own, the truth is that the writing community is vibrant, collaborative, and surprisingly social. Writing conferences in particular have become an indispensable resource for anyone looking to stay connected to what’s current in the industry. Literary culture is constantly evolving, and conferences and other large-scale gatherings offer writers, publishing professionals, and other producers a chance to connect and learn from each other. Listed below are some of the great writing conferences around the state that Oregon authors should be sure to check out.
- Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference: For writers looking for something different from the usual large-scale conference atmosphere, the Oregon Writers Colony Annual Conference is a perfect fit. The Oregon Writers Colony is a community of writers that provides workshops, advice, companionship, and access to a writing retreat on the Oregon Coast. The annual conference is held in spring every year. This year, the 2017 conference took place on May 5–7 at the author-centered Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Check out their website for more information.
- South Coast Writers Conference: Located in Gold Beach on Oregon’s southwestern coast, the South Coast Writers Conference celebrated its twenty-second anniversary in February of 2017. It is described as an “eclectic” gathering of writers of all genres and experience levels. The conference is cosponsored by Southwestern Oregon Community College and the Gold Beach Visitor Center. Organizers work to schedule this two-day conference each year during Presidents’ Day weekend, but keep an eye on the Southwestern Oregon Community College website for updates about next year’s event.
- Terroir Creative Writing Festival: Sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County, Terroir Creative Writing Festival aims to build a strong local literary presence while also making connections to the broader writing and publishing community. With writing and publishing workshops, speakers, readings, and a festival bookstore, all those interested in contemporary writing are encouraged to attend. The 2017 festival took place on April 22 at the Yamhill County Campus of Chemeketa Community College; information about the 2018 event will be updated on the Terroir website once available.
- Willamette Writers Conference: Because Willamette Writers is the largest writers organization in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that this annual conference gathers writers of all kinds—including fiction, nonfiction, memoir, stage, screen, and web—for a three-day conference in Northeast Portland. Whether a writer is new to the scene or a seasoned veteran, the event offers programming varied enough to appeal to the different stages of a writing career. The Willamette Writers website outlines the schedule in detail, but writers can expect to meet with teachers, speakers, authors, agents, editors, and producers that can advise them on their work and the writing process as a whole. The 2017 Willamette Writers Conference will be held from August 4–6 at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel in Northeast Portland.
- Wordstock: More than just a conference, Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival is a celebration of books, authors, and bibliophiles in general. The festival is hosted by Literary Arts, an invaluable hub for the literary community in the Pacific Northwest. According to the Literary Arts website, last year’s festival featured more than one hundred authors presenting at various onstage events, pop-up readings, and workshops. With food, drink, live music, a large bookfair, and so many events, Wordstock is proof that literary culture is not only alive in Oregon but flourishing. The 2017 Wordstock festival is slated to take place on November 11 in and around the Portland Art Museum in downtown Portland.
- Write to Publish: Hosted by Ooligan Press—the student-run, nonprofit press affiliated with Portland State University’s publishing program—Write to Publish is centered around “demystifying” the publishing industry for emerging professionals looking to get their work out in the world. Though the event touches on the craft of writing and hosts various workshops and panels, the spotlight is on helping new publishing professionals, writers, and other artists learn to successfully navigate the publishing industry. The 2018 conference marks the tenth annual installment of Write to Publish, so attendees can be sure to expect big things from next year’s event. Write to Publish 2018 is projected to take place next spring in downtown Portland, but be sure to keep checking its website for updates.
As evidenced by the number of large writing events held around the state, Oregon’s literary culture truly thrives in a social setting. Beyond conferences, authors can connect with other writing professionals on a smaller scale through opportunities such as workshops, residencies, and writing groups. Even the most solitary of writers can benefit through collaboration, and the Oregonian writing community is here to help.
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