The Kauai Writer’s Conference

Thanksgiving Break has almost come and gone for another year, but I didn’t want to let it go by without talking about the Kauai Writer’s Conference. Once again, my college Kirkwood was kind enough to ship me off somewhere cool, and this time I proposed that I hang out with a bunch of other writers in Hawaii.

For those of us who are genre writers, conventions can be fannish events, or where we meet lots of other writers higher on the publishing food chain than we are. This conference was unusual for me, inasmuch as it wasn’t a genre conference, but rather tended toward the literary. There were a great many people there who were working on literary writing and memoir, and very few writers like me, a horror/fantasist.

I had a great time. The purpose of this conference, for me, was to recharge. It hasn’t been the best year for me, writing wise. School in the time of Covid has become an amazing time sink. I miss the days before, when most of my spare time wasn’t concerned with navigating a new work environment, unknown student expectations, and what seems to be a general malaise in the occupation, given the levels of burnout. I’m not going to talk about all this. There are REASONS, and I have OPINIONS, but what I want to say is that sometimes there is no solution to a problem, even when you can see the causes of the problem. Yes, I know, it would be so cool if everyone would listen to me, because I have all the answers. Honestly, I don’t have the answers, but I can say that it was nice to take a break from all of it.

Kauai then. Kauai is perhaps the most untouched of the Hawaiian Islands they tell me. There are many, many chickens which roam the island like they own the place. I didn’t stay at the uber resort where the hotel was, because I received permission to go to the conference much later, but I had the very satisfying experience of staying at a local hotel in the town and lyfting to and from the conference, which meant I hung out with townies for saimin (noodles!) and enjoyed the local vibe.

At the conference, there was a lot of conversation about why you write, artistic writing, what writing meant as an individual doing art, and a lot of other things that just aren’t as popular to talk about in a circle of genre friends that don’t see the point of writing as much but publishing. That is not to say I only hang out with publishing friends. But you are all aware how long ago I decided my writing wasn’t going to support me, so I was ready for some of the art talk

The conference was kind of gray, with me at 57 being one of the younger attendees. Well, I guess if you’ve retired from a profession, and now you’re writing books, you might be able to afford to take yourself to Hawaii for a nice conference? My fellow attendees had been/were professors, journalists, people from various walks of life who now wanted to write.

There was conversation about the state of publishing, and how it was changing. There were awesome conversations about why we write. There was plenty of beauty to look at, a luau to experience, some conversation about books with personal purpose, and in general just a very good vibe. I don’t know if my travels will ever take me back, but I’d recommend it as a gentle conference, especially if you need to hear that writing is enough, without all the other bells and whistles attached. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey kind of stuff.

Here’s a picture of Hawaii. Because you know, it’s good to look at pictures of Hawaii.