Making Literature 2013 Conference

The reason there was only one post last week was because, as I had mentioned previously, I was in Upland, IN at the 2013 Making Literature Conference at Taylor University. I was one of five students from Calvin–my college–there and I was most likely the youngest or one of the youngest there.

What was I presenting on? Well, you remember that aborted series of posts on Sherlock Holmes I tried doing? Well, the main catalyst for that, besides what I mentioned in the first post, is because the previous semester, I had written an essay examining the character of Irene Adler both in her original literary appearance and in episodes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock. At about eight pages, mine was probably one of the shorter presentations, but man, I still had a lot of fun.

So, then, here’s how this all went. We left at about 6:15 AM EST from campus–thank the Good Lord for coffee shops–and drove for about four hours until we arrived at Taylor’s campus. After the opening welcome, we attended a panel, lunch, then another panel. While my panel–the topic was Adaptation, incidentally–was originally supposed to be in the same space as the last panel, in the basement of the art building, due to being under a classroom of bashing things and calling it art, we were moved to another building. The panel went well regardless.

I was the third panelist, after my new friend Abigail from Bethel University in Minnesota–she presented on the contrasts between the traditional hymn “Oh, For A Thousand Tongues to Sing” and the recent reimagining of it by David Crowder Band–and my friend Jacqueline, who presented on similarities between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein. Although Abigail’s was the audience favorite, it seems–she later wound up winning $250 for having the best critical analysis–Jacqueline and I still fielded a lot of questions and things went well.

After going to a release party for Taylor’s annual literary journal Parnassus, we attended the keynote speech of the evening by Hal Bush, a professor and author from St. Louis University. He spoke on habits in writing and offered some invaluable tips which I plan to incorporate.

The next day, I attended a few more panels, attended a reading by and met the poet Susanna Childress, an adjunct professor at Hope College who is quite possibly the sassiest, least self-serious poet on the face of the earth. The keynote talk that evening was by nationally acclaimed writer Bret Lott, who spoke on precision in writing and gave some remarkable insight into the writing process.

I managed to get to speak with him for a little bit afterwards. When I told him that I recently finished writing an original superhero story and how much fun I had had writing it and how much fun people had had reading it, his response was “Write more. Make it a series.” More as that story develops…

After attending an hour and a half panel on Saturday on the ins and outs of publishing in literary and academic journals and small press houses, we headed home and got back at around 5:00. So, in between all that fun and learning, why did I not post?

Well, honestly, because I was busy running everywhere for most of the day and when I wasn’t, I was hanging out with my hosts, a group of seniors living in an apartment. I would have been rude to not indulge their hospitality. Furthermore, Taylor’s on-campus Wi-Fi is very weird to connect to, with me just barely getting it on my computer and not getting it at ALL on my Android. Sorry to leave you on short notice like that, but I didn’t anticipate how busy I would be.

So what did I do outside of the conference? Well, went down a super super scary back road called “The Devil’s Backbone” for one. For another, watched clips at random on Netflix from things like Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and the old JEM cartoon (that opening; so…much…80’s!). And, in the company of three literature and philosophy majors in a coffee shop, had a two or three-hour conversation on the meaning of gender. (If that’s not the sort of thing people think I actually do at a liberal arts college, I don’t know what is.)

So yeah, basically I did some networking, met some cool people, and had some fun times. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

See you Friday!

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