Riches and realisations from Geneva with love

Back from Geneva where it was freezing cold outside, but warm in my heart. I met up with old friends from a workplace that had introduced me to telecoms technology, before such became mainstream, and had ignited certain inclinations in me it was unable to extinguish. And, so to the Geneva Writers’ Conference where I caught up with old writing friends and met new ones. At the open mic dinner reading on the Friday night, I was fortunate to be included, and read my tiny Wizard of Oz Revisited. Several people I had never met told me they enjoyed it, which helped finish the day on a high note. More of that high note was hanging out at Mr Pickwick catching The Square Brackets and chilling into the wee hours with a dear friend.

The Geneva Writers’ Conference, held every two years at Webster University, was as ever impeccably organised over the Friday to Sunday period. Workshops were offered in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Playwriting and Critiquing, and there were panels with agents and editors and web publishing writers. Here’s an article about the event. And here’s what one participant learned from a fiction workshop, and here’s what Marcus Ferrar blogged about the e-publishing panel. I caught both of these and the critiquing session after which I realised I still had not found the true opening for my novel, Ambergris. I was happy with the Conference, but it was only when gathering my thoughts to send back my evaluation which I had forgotten to leave in Geneva that I recognised the riches and realisations that I had brought back with me to Vienna.

I had met new writing friends such as Alan McCluskey, and caught up with old ones: Jo Anne Rasch, whose poetry book, Transition, I got from the bookshop, Mohamed Tawfik who’ll be with me in Little Rock, and Dinah Lee Küng, Orange Prize nominee for her novel, A Visit from Voltaire. I cut class to spend some quality time with Dinah, chatting about life, books, publishing, and I learnt so much from her about getting my act together. Then there was a rush to get out of Geneva with ice, cold and cancelled trains making me doubt that we’d catch the night train from Zurich. But, we did! We? Two mates and I, one of whom, D-L Nelson, author of several novels, braved the very different, though still freezing cold, in Vienna to take in Klimt, Hundertwasser, Henri-Cartier Bresson, a Chinese New Year concert, pastries and time out with Dr Gugu and my Swedish brother.

I also realised the sort of writer I really was: I’m in love with the process; the word “career” makes me cringe; I was blown away by Dinah Lee Küng’s rendering in Chinese and English of a poem by Zhu Yufu at the Conference faculty readings; I connected with Jo Ann Rasch’s poems from Transition; I’m in awe of DL’s path as a novelist – who knows, there may even be a Murder in Vienna; I want to write what I want to write, wherever, however.

And somehow this mindset made me want to be part of a group that is trying to revive the New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan project. And it may seem crazy, but I’m also involved in the Raunchy Recipes project. And I have a novel to revise, and another, and crazy things to pepper over the web. And one day I’ll pull all those mercury blobs together into a single place. That may brand me, but hey, I guess that’s who I am as a writer.