Last week I had the privilege of attending the Black Writers Reunion and conference (BWRC) in Las Vegas. I had my expectations, but I left Vegas on Sunday morning feeling more fulfilled and inspired than I had ever expected. When I arrived on Wednesday, I was nervous. I had never traveled out of state alone and I had no one to rely on to make my introductions and break the ice for me. I had to force myself to step outside of my comfort zone and make new friends and connections. On the first night, the other BWRC attendees and I met at the front entrance of the hotel so we could tour the Fremont Experience. As I surveyed my surroundings, checking out several women and a few men who shared the same passion for writing as I do, I immediately became more comfortable. Still, I was not ready to approach these strangers and spark a conversation. Then, Spoken Word artist, Marc Lacy, broke the ice and started a game to see who could get to know the most people in the least amount of time. That gave me an excuse to break loose and open up to my fellow writers. I met Sandra Hicks LaVenchi, Renee Flagler, Nakia Laushaul, Cherlisa Starks-Richardson, Sophia C. Simmons, Maria Jill Green, and a host of other wonderful writers who came with the hopes of spreading their God-given talent and making an impact on the world. I immediately felt like I was in my element, with people who understood me and my purpose.
Thursday we all attended the first installment of workshops, taught by the elite of the African-American literary world. My first workshop, “So You Wanna Write”, taught by ReShonda Tate Billingsly, gave me restored hope that I could top several best seller lists even as a self-published author. As the day went on and the workshops continued, I realized (even more so than before) that I was made for writing. I ended the night with pages of notes, a host of new friends and connections, and a smile on my face.
By Friday, I was hype and feeling like I was well on my way to a successful writing career. I ate breakfast with bestselling author, Venice Berry. One workshop that stood out to me, was “Fundamentals of Fiction”, presented by N. Kali Mincy. She taught us the do’s and don’ts, ins and outs or fiction writing. Now I pride myself on being pretty knowledgeable about the art of writing, but I left that class with new information and fresh perspectives. Bestselling author, Lutishia Lovely taught me to claim the “Bestseller” title Between workshops, we got the opportunity to visit the authors’ vending booths, chit chat, and purchase books to support each other. I purchased, Mountain High and Valley Low by Renee Flagler, Lyricode 256 by Marc Lacy, Black Rain by Vincent Alexandria, and Everybody Say Amen by ReShonda Tate Billingsley. I will be sure to post my thoughts on these projects in the future.
Even though the conference was over by Friday night, I decided to stay an extra night just to enjoy Vegas and my new found friends. We hit the strip, sipping on drinks, visiting casinos, and checking out the sights. We ended the night at Ray J’s club, Poetry. By Sunday afternoon, I was on a plane making my way back home to Michigan. I feel refreshed, confident, and anxious for the next conference.
Tia Ross, organized an amazing event for black writers and I am genuinely appreciative. She announced that the next conference will not take place until 2011, but I hear she is getting pressured to make it happen next year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that she gives in to the pressure and I get to do this again in 2010. I can’t wait!
Cool Sites you should check out: