by Linda Johnston
Hugs, laughter, and excitement started the Women Writing the West 2014 conference in Golden, Colorado this past weekend. I am still letting the memories settle into my heart and head as I unpack. What ambiance we had – the backdrop of the Rocky Mountain foothills, great weather, informative speakers, and most of all wonderful people.
I would like to share this little rhyme I wrote for my friends at the conference:
Literary women gathered in Golden
strong and empowered, to no one beholdin’
What was it the coming weekend would bring?
I want to remember each little thing.
The arc above Golden says “Howdy Y’all”
Crisp and clear weather, what a glorious fall.
We gathered together as we do once a year,
shared stories, experiences with friends we hold dear.
Women Writing the West is officially twenty.
Memories and stories? There will be plenty.
Let us thank the women who first had the vision
to bring us together with writing as our mission.
We write about women in fiction and non,
contemporary, historical, the list it goes on.
To our prospective readers, here is a tip -
settings are west of the great Mississipp.
Nancy Jurka and posse, a magnificent team
gave us a conference that was really a dream.
You gave us folders, nametags, and totes.
Running for office? You’d get our votes.
We had sessions on WASPS, social media, fashion,
research, speaking, and writing with passion.
We spent time chatting with friends old and new-
“Oh, you write historical fiction, wow, I do too.”
These women writers are a generous bunch
as evidenced by information exchanged during lunch.
It’s a time to learn more about who’s writing what.
Need a resource, connection, or answer? Fear not.
The bookstore was handled by Nina and Ron,
who were great to work with, we could go on and on.
Whatever came up, they handled the task,
“Who Else?” would take care, all you need do is ask.
Though after the sessions, I felt a bit tired,
after viewing the movie, I was quite inspired.
Wilma Mankiller’s story – the power of one,
brought her nation together to get the job done.
Saturday came to a close with the great WILLA dinner
to announce each book and each talented winner.
The best part of the evening had not a category,
it was the beautiful quilt, with its heartwarming story.
We all listened as Sherry described each sewn square,
and how she’d assembled them with such loving care.
The colors and images many stories impart,
“It’s like one of my children,” she said from her heart.
Then came the moment we wanted to know,
who’d won the quilt and where would it go?
The winner came forward and what a surprise,
she returned it to Sherry, there were no dry eyes.
Though from all walks of life, here’s what we share -
A sense of camaraderie that is very rare.
We learn, we discuss, we laugh and we cry,
and on Sunday, we know we must say goodbye.
But come next October – we will gather in Bend.
The time will go fast, you will see, my dear friend.
Until then we have research, writing, and blogging,
to keep all our literary channels from clogging.
Linda S. Johnston