Why We're Here: River Teeth Nonfiction Conference 2015


May 21, 2015

Why We're Here: River Teeth Nonfiction Conference 2015

In the midst of long commutes and longer working days, children’s softball games and fast-food dinners, late bedtimes and repeatedly hitting snooze these last few weeks, I lamented to my husband, “It would be so much easier if I didn’t have this.”

This being the itch and twitch to figure it all out, to make sense of my obsessive hunt for the roadside heron in Wolf Creek each morning, coupled with the sudden buds and blossoms of a dozen bleeding heart shrubs in our new backyard, planted by my husband’s grandma years, maybe decades, earlier. This being the ambition to reflect on the parents at the softball game yelling at their 9- and 10-year-old daughters and me, judging, then me, leaping impulsively and shouting, MISS IT! at the first baseman on the other team. What does it all mean?!

I only wish away this when I can’t make the time or summon the energy to settle in and soak up the deep satisfaction I find in writing. It’s mysterious, both a gift and burden, to scavenge around in one’s own life or the lives and world around us for truth. This solitary act is paradoxically connective, a space in which, by hunting after just the right word and scene, alone, we find empathy, meaning, intimacy, and hope.

Coming here for this weekend is an opportunity to lament together about this, what to do with this, how to make this happen, to remember again—if we could use the reminder—that this is essential. This is powerful. This matters, more than publication, more than some extrinsic reward, this work is life changing and life sustaining.

We hope this weekend will remind you what a gift this is and will bring hope and endurance for the long haul.


“Don’t lament so much about
how your career is going to turn out.
You don’t have a career. You have a life.
Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue.
You are a writer because you write.
Keep writing and quit your bitching.
Your book has a birthday.
You don’t know what it is yet.”

- Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

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