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.

11 thoughts on “Riches and realisations from Geneva with love

  1. Hi Mary, Thanks for the good words. Just read your blog post. Ah, the Scribner man. Try and catch Dinah Lee Kung for a chat on the brave new world, and allbest for your babies. Onwards!

  2. Hi SylviaI enjoyed listening to you read at the conference. We didn’t meet formally but I too am a good friend of JoAnn’s. I enjoyed this post, and I’ll bookmark your blog and hope to buttonhole you at the next conference to exchange ideas. I also wrote on my blog about how the conference made me think about the future of books and publishing. (

  3. Good to hear all is full-swing on your end, Sylvia. I And thank you very much for the tip on the writing workshop run by Fred Leebron. A few of us Vienna Writers made it along and really got something out of it.

  4. As always mate, your ability to be true to yourself has been my guiding light. We’ve both come a long way since we were plotting one of my character’s death in a cafeteria and rewriting our work for the 11th time at the suggestion of the other. Thank you for being you. My love to the boys…

  5. Oh, Jo Ann, our little lunch in the bookshop was great. And I love your book of poems. No need for honour on my blog, though. We´re all just writers before anything else.

  6. Sylvia, it was super to see you, as always you’re just beyond the edge, as if you envisioned the future before any of us…as well as being so warm-hearted and generous. I too add my comment that your Friday reading made me dream, so keep the writing coming…and thank you for mentioning me. I’m honored to be in such a list of writers.

  7. Dear Susan, wonderful of you to swing by. Not only did you and the group way back then make me feel I had the right to write, but I still feel your support in being the writer I want to be. I would have liked to have had more time with you.

  8. Thank you Sylvia for this great thumbs up for the Geneva Writers’ Conference. We were happy you could be with us, appreciating once again not only your writing and your workds but also your support, energy, and enthusiasm.We continue to miss you in Geneva,Susan (Susan Tiberghien,

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