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The Value of Hanging Out with Fellow Lunatics

The following was a guest blog posting for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference (

FOWG plus Jack Eidt Left to right Rick Shaw Max Talley Angela Borda Maryanne Knight Nick Deitch

Writers come in all shapes and sizes, physically and metaphorically. Weaving simple words into verse of such striking beauty to bring a tear, or dark imagery leaving you unable to sleep without a light on for weeks at a time. For some, stringing words and conjuring images comes easy, like breathing. For others each word, phrase, sentence, paragraph is a struggle of epic proportion. But we as writers are all bound by a single objective – we must tell stories.

Though writers are often introverts, and for many writing is a solitary thing – door closed, BIC-HOK (Butt-in-Chair-Hands-On-Keyboard). As humans, we are also social creatures, and if, as readers and writers, are lucky we find a welcoming gathering of other such creatures.

Yes there are others like us, who are afflicted with particular flavor of lunacy. Afflicted with a compulsion to share stories.

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference resumes in June, after a three-year hiatus. A conclave of like-minded, exceptionally generous souls who are willing to share their experience. It is an eclectic mix of professionals and amateurs, indie and traditionally published authors. Above all, it’s an environment that breeds creativity and provides a space for us to learn from some of the best in our field. I am hooked, a junkie returning for a fix.

I’ve been attending, off and on, since 2005. It took me a couple of years to believe I belonged among such a host. You see, Imposters Syndrome frequently holds court over the voices and characters in my head. Now I draw energy and a sense of comfort from this community of lunatics, online, and once a year in person.

Though the industry is evolving, the need to hone your craft, to tell a compelling story, will always be the foundation of our work. If you have a story to tell, poetry to compose, or screen plays to hone, SBWC is as welcoming a space as you’ll find.

Come with an open mind, experiment, and try hard not to hold your works too precious.
I can’t stress enough the importance of opening yourself up to new genres, or forms. Sit-in and move between sessions. There is an energy flowing through the lectures, workshops, and pirate sessions. If you’re a night owl, try a late-night pirate session – read and critique into the wee hours, until we’ve had enough. Some of the best of us lunatics hang out here. We learn as much, if not more, from each other. We learn to develop a thicker skin. Rule number one is we’re not here to tear down, we’re here to help each other grow.

So, after three years of COVID, we will renew friendships, make new ones, and honor the void left by those no longer among us. We will bring our current and new projects, for critique and revision. We break story and argue the rules, so we can break those too. We will celebrate the successes of works published – and years of hard work that got them there.

I am honored to be part of this community and hang with these lunatics a few days each June.

And yes Alice, we’re all a little mad here.