By Carrie Ginest
Authors Ad Hudler and Steve Almond returned to the second annual Crossroads Writers Conference, joining other writers and a host of readers as all converged on Mercer University on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Other writers included, Judith Ortiz-Cofer, Carroll Rogers, Jack McDevitt, William Rawlings and Jeffrey Stepakoff.
Workshops and breakout sessions offered attendees insight into major aspects of writers’ lives and the art of writing.
English major Nicole Arden said she received valuable advice from Ortiz-Cofer, whom Arden quoted, saying, “wake-up two hours
before you need to for uninterrupted time to write.”
Arden said the most important thing she took away from the session was “to just sit down and write because by the time (you) find the time, it will be too late. Taking the time to write everyday is essential to becoming a good writer.”
English major Rebecca Kidd said she gained insight through the advice that, no matter the type of writing, you “can’t leave the emotion out.”
Emotion is a tool used to connect to the reader, said Kidd.
In a discussion among Crossroads board members, panelists and attendees regarding their experience with this year’s conference, Ad Hudler confided in Chris Horne that “it was the most unique and interesting conference he’s been to—that the feeling is just different.”
Regarding other factors that made the conference a success, Kidd added, spending “time with other people, famous and not, that love
English professor Monica Young-Zook explained the allure of Crossroads. “It’s an inexpensive conference that offers a lot of awesome writers and several lifetimes of collective wisdom about the art, craft and business of writing to not only our talented adult population but to college- and high school-aged writers,” Young-Zook said.
Chris Horne, president of the Crossroads board, said that his favorite part of the conference was “hoping to see smiles on the faces of our attendees—to see them taking notes and having a good time. What made me happiest was seeing the near shock on the faces of some of our presenters who seemed to be loving the conference as much as, if not more than, the folks who paid to be there.”
Horne said this year’s Crossroads grew “by about three times over the first year. So the greatest success for the conference is that it grew so quickly without losing an ounce of its casual, friendly and welcoming personality. That freedom to relax breeds a sense of community and encouragement that’s hard to find elsewhere.”
Young-Zook said, “the proceeds of this conference go to the Creative Ruckus Academy for young people.”
Crossroads board members and others are already planning next year’s conference.
“I’m excited to see the mix of panelists they come up with and all the new insight I’ll learn,” said Arden.
Kidd said she is looking forward to the “experience” at next year’s event.