I’d like to say we’re in the midst of complicated times right now, but the truth is that we’re always in the midst of complicated times. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, and all the other manifestations of the hatred within us are always running amok in the world. Is it justified to indulge in thoughts and feelings that may seem trivial in comparison to the untimely death of our fellow human beings? Does a writing conference have meaning or substance in the face of tragedy?
I like to think so. I like to think our ability to experience and communicate things like hope, joy, and togetherness are just as important as the terrors we’re all too capable of inflicting upon each other. On the first weekend in August I’ll be at the 2013 Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles, my fifth time as attendee, my first as faculty. This conference has been a mecca of good fortune and opportunity for me. I’ve developed truly meaningful friendships there; I’ve absorbed immense amounts of information and inspiration; and of course the single most important moment of my writing career took place there, the moment when I first met my editor, Arthur A. Levine.
Hope, optimism, anticipation, and amazement have defined my experience at this conference, and those feelings are no less evergreen and essential than the pain and rage so many of us have experienced in recent days. I’ll be there in two and a half weeks, hoping to avoid stumbles during my sessions, dealing with the usual social anxiety, seeing new faces, celebrating the fact that I get to pursue a career that means so, so much to me. I hope you’ll be there too. It’ll be good to see you.