October 8-9 is Wordstock Festival at the Oregon Convention Center. Here’s some information from the website:
“Wordstock is a literary art and education organization that celebrates and supports writing in the classroom and in the community. Our mission is to use the power of writing to effect positive change in people’s lives.
Our programs include Wordstock for Teachers, a professional development program for K-12 teachers that trains them to change the way they teach writing; Wordstock for Kids, our creative writing instruction program for students that works in the Portland Public Schools; an annual series of skill and knowledge workshops for practicing writers, called Wordstock for Communities; and an annual weekend showing of movies adapted from literary works, calledThe Wordstock Book-to-Film Festival. Our flagship program is our annual book and literary festival in Portland, by far the largest such event in the Northwest, known nationwide as Wordstock. We believe showcasing the artistic accomplishment of contemporary writers at our festival is one of the most compelling examples of writing’s power that we can provide.”
Needless to say, when I found out about Wordstock right after we moved to Portland, I was ecstatic and determined to find a way to get there, preferably for free. And I did! I volunteered to work for 2 1/2 hours in exchange for free admittance both days. I only went yesterday (I have prior plans today), but it was worth it.
The organization was supposed to have t-shirts for us, but unfortunately yesterday the t-shirt order was late, so I ended up in a men’s large polo that reached almost to my knees. Thankfully, I worked at the author check-in table and stood behind a counter so the illustrious authors I met were greeted by the upper half of my torso and my smiling face. In fact, they were met by seven eager, smiling faces. Our station was definitely over-staffed. Two people were in charge of checking off the authors’ names, one was finding their name tags, one told them where they were to go next, and three people rotated the responsibility of walking authors across the small lobby to the elevator that was clearly visible from our station. Once they safely reached the elevator they were met by another volunteer that ushered them onto the elevator (maybe he even pushed the elevator buttons for them?) and when they arrived on the 4th floor another volunteer ushered them into the VIP lounge. Let’s just say these authors were NOT going to escape!! I thought the author attendance was a little excessive (these people wrote books – you’d think they’d be able to follow directions to the 4th floor), but it was fun getting to meet them! Here’s some of the authors I got to meet:
…Not that I knew who a lot of these people were, but I’d heard several of their names before. And I found out more later.
After my short shift I was free to wander around the exhibition hall, where several bookstores, publishing presses, literary agencies, and schools had set up booths. I simply delight in being in a giant room full of books. Unfortunately I didn’t attend any of the workshops or listen to any of the speakers; all the ones I was interested in were on Sunday and I knew I couldn’t go today. I picked up tons of brochures and fliers from publishing companies (future jobs, yes??). I even was able to talk to the senior editor of Gray Dog Press in Spokane, WA. I asked him how he got his start, what he’s done, and how he got his current job, and I told him where I am in my career path. He basically told me to keep doing what I’m doing because I’m on the right track. That was encouraging.
It wasn’t anywhere near as big as the London Book Fair, which I attended in April, but I really enjoyed it. And… I’m sorry to say I’ve already failed my resolution not to acquire more books until I finish the ones on my list. Amazon Publishing was there and they were giving out books for FREE!! So I had to take one. But I will make good on my promise to review The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I just finished. It’s a good one!