Monday, September 06, 2010

Feeding on the Energy

I was in New Orleans for Heather Graham's annual Writers for New Orleans Workshop this past weekend. For me, this is less work and more fun with friends. People I adore fly in from all over the country and we spend a few days together doing panels, discussions, and partying in a terrific city that epitomizes fun.

There's a palpable energy to the city. It spreads out like sunshine and soaks into your skin until you're all filled up with warmth and light. The French Quarter doesn't simply buzz or hum with life. It sings in full-throated harmony and dances to the rhythm of jazz, blues and zydeco. Five years after Hurricane Katrina, the spirt (and spirits) flow.

There's an energy to a writers' conference, too. I love talking with and listening to writers and readers. They are all storytellers and for someone who loves words as much as I do, this is like a banquet for gluttons. From the sharp smarts of JA Konrath who has become an Internet juggernaut with the Kindle sales of his work, to the hilarious joy of L.A. Banks who has the funniest tale of getting the call about her first sale ever . . . to Sarah from Smart Bitches Love Trashy Books who shines the spotlight on the genre's glories and flaws and now is invited to speak at places like Princeton University and publishers' institutes . . . F. Paul Wilson, Alexandra Sokoloff, Harley Jane Kozak, Linda Conrad, Kayla Perrin, Kathy Love . . . I could go on and on and on.

I talked to writers, editors, readers. We shared stories over Eggs Benedict or scones in the morning, fine filet and cocktails in the evening. I gorged on the energy of like-minded people and returned home stuffed and happy.

I have to wonder if it's like this in other industries. Do dentists or insurance agents go to conventions and catch a similar vibe? Do they return to their homes, buzzing with energy and eager to go forth and create with new purpose?

For their sakes, I hope so.


Stormy said...

What? No powdered-sugar-dusted beignet and chicory-imbued coffee from Cafe du Monde? :)

I'm from the Gulf Coast, and know of the Katrina (and subsequent Rita) victims. I'm glad (and jealous) to see you had a good time.

Mary Stella said...

Unbelievably, I did not make it to Cafe du Monde for beignets this year. I love beignets. *sigh* I did, however, scarf down excellent red beans, rice and smoked sausage before dashing off to the airport yesterday.

Beth Ciotta said...

Sounds fabulous, Mary. Sorry I missed it. So glad you had fun AND soaked up the awesome energy!

bonafidebetty said...

Sounds wonderful! I love writing workshops and conferences.

Skye said...

Yes, accountants do go to conferences and get the same vibe. Well, some do. This summer I had the pleasure of doing some freelance work for the National Association of Black Accountants (and I am so white i stand out in a crowd of white people, so I was pretty noticeable). Man, those people are awesome. Energetic and excited from being around others like them, talking to each other about accounting and auditing and financial advising and god knows what else. Very fun people, which is not exactly what I expected from a group of accountants. And from all accounts (no pun intended), the pretty much tore through Houston clubs at night!