So yes, I went to the Non-Fiction Now Conference. Of course, I did not have to travel far. Just across town. That’s physical travel, of course.
Psychic travel went much further. Back to the excitement of learning. Of being among people who are striving through a singular endeavor — yet with individual destinations. Young and old (like me).
Such a range of people. From experts and high-end producers to those just starting out (like me). From those with supreme confidence (cocky, shall we say) to those working through grave self-doubts. I’m somewhere in between — an explorer.
Three days of fun. I couldn’t keep up with the young ones, who ran a schedule beginning at 9 a.m. and ended when the 9 p.m. readings at coffee houses wound down. I took a break on Friday night to keep to my regular symphony commitment with my very important wife. That’s a very important change from behavior in previous professions — family first, life first. We’ll make this writing part of life, not the whole life.
What did I gain at this conference?
- Inspiration: Brian Doyle was great; others, too.
- Perspective: All those different people; all those different presses. (I heard no one here mention self-publishing. This is a world of academics. Publish or perish is their world.)
- Recollection: Experts, too, should strive for perspective and sometimes they don’t. One panel with an exciting title about research was all about navel-gazing. Literally, one panelist read her research on navels, which was, indubitably, interesting. But then each panelist read his or her research. That’s it. No thread binding these interesting vignettes together. No lesson. Just an implication from the panel’s title that only academics were legitimate researchers. Hmm — not impressed.
- More books for the shelf. At discounted prices.
- Reminder: Closed minds are everywhere. One woman walked out of a panel. She later told me she felt her religion (“Christianity”) was being insulted and she wasn’t putting up with that “anymore.” Really?