I’m just back from Left Coast Crime, an annual mystery convention that takes place somewhere west of the Hudson River every year. One year it was as west as Hawaii; another year it was as east as Bristol, UK (? the west coast of England ?); and next year it’s in Colorado Springs.
Last week, we met in Sacramento, California. About 600 writers and readers gathered for nonstop schmoozing, paneling, snacking, and book shopping.
This wasn’t the first conference that laid to rest one of my fears when I thought of writing as a career: that it would be a solitary occupation.
I’d been a physicist for a long time. No one does physics alone, not since Newton, anyway. Who can accommodate something like a 17-mile-long tunnel to house a collider, or a 192-beam laser, in her garage?
Physicists gather around huge equipment in giant laboratories these days, working as a team. My graduate school mates and I spent long hours together in the same laboratory every day, sharing power supplies, evil-mentor stories, and data. We became close friends and knew each others’ families as well as our own for a few years. Decades later, we still get together for reunions.
As much as I wanted to be a writer, I couldn’t imagine sitting alone in a room with pen and paper, or keyboard and monitor, pouring out my thoughts and plots, in solitary confinement.
What a relief when I discovered that writing—mystery writing especially—was a community endeavor. I discovered not only professional organizations and critique groups, but book clubs, conferences, Internet lists and groups, and blogging colleagues. Who knew?
In case you missed them elsewhere, I’m posting some photos from the conference, including one of me with Dick Lupoff, a friend and veteran writer.
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