Wordstock Round-up

the Wordstock bag containing words and other mysterious things

the Wordstock bag containing words and other mysterious things

I hadn’t realised until it was mentioned in a panel, but this was Wordstock’s last year at the Oregon Convention Center. There will be no Wordstock festival in 2014, and then the next event will be in spring 2015 at Portland State University.

It’s an intriguing move, with the reasons cited for both the venue change and the calendar change seeming pretty appropriate for the festival’s goals. I haven’t been inside any of the PSU buildings, although it’s a nice campus so I am quite looking forward to seeing how Wordstock works in its new home. I also like that I will only need to get a single bus: no hopping onto the MAX for the last section.

Of course, given this year’s collision with the Portland Marathon, it seems inevitable that the new date will collide with some other well-established Portland running event – I’m betting on the Cinco de Mayo run, since that route passes right through the PSU campus.

But, enough of Wordstocks to come – what about the Wordstock just past?


I attended on the Sunday and booked three workshops. My thinking in booking these was that three workshops cost the same as two, but the effect was of an excessively busy schedule – it reminded me more of my week at OSCON back in 2005 than a literary event. One effect was that I only attended one panel, which I regret.

Still, the workshops were interesting and useful.

“How to Write Stunning Sentences” was a very rapid overview of sentence structure and how to expand a sentence to achieve certain effects. The ideas of left-, mid-, and right-branching sentences were new to me, and when the discussion drifted into rhetorical devices I knew this was a workshop I had made a wise choice in attending.

“Outlining It Might Not Kill You” was less information-dense, but still engaging. The discussion of different levels of complexity in outlining was fascinating, and although I didn’t necessarily learn anything which really changes what I will do it did give me more context to think about rising and falling tension, action, jeopardy, and other elements. This was also the one workshop where I ran into someone I knew, a colleague from the day job.

“Writers and Social Media” was the workshop which most changed my way of thinking, however. Obviously I am not a complete neophyte when it comes to Teh Intertoobs since I have this blog, and I use Facebook, Google+, and Linked In for their appropriate strengths, but my Twitter account has sat largely unused.

This will change.

I’ll post my Twitter handle once that change has happened.

Book Fair

I talked to a few folks in the exhibition hall, but I was mostly wanting to collect information on editing services for comparison purposes. I’m not at a point where it’s worth employing an editor, but I will be soon I hope.

Good conversations and good information.


Of course I bought books.

“A Simplified Map of the Real World” by Stevan Allred was one I wanted to pick up from Forest Avenue Press. It’s published by a friend and I’ve talked to the author a couple of times so obviously I want to support that, but I am very much looking forward to reading it. The design is gorgeous, certainly. I’ll write more about it once I have actually read it.

“The Productive Writer” by Sage Cohen is one I meant to pick up at last year’s show after attending the author’s workshop, but I have it now. I also found out that Laura Stanfill had it in her stack of writing guides which she talked about in the panel she was on.

“Burn Wild” by Christi Krug was also in Laura’s stack, and in fact I picked this up because of Laura’s association with Christi. Anyway, this looks like an inspiring that I am looking forward to reading.

The one that got away this time is “The Writer’s Notebook” from Tin House – I bought “The Writer’s Notebook II” last year and devoured it.

So, that was my Wordstock. How was yours?

2 Replies to “Wordstock Round-up”

  1. Laura says:

    Duncan, I love this round-up, and I especially love your list of books! Thanks so much for supporting my press and my writer-friends too. My favorite part of Sunday was being on a panel with Sage, who I had only met once before, and Christi, who is a longtime writing buddy of mine. We talked about writing guides, and talked a lot about offering writers permission to address the blank page. It made me so happy that you walked away from the weekend with all three of our books! Thanks for the support.

    1. Dunx says:

      Thank you, Laura, for doing so much for the writing community in Portland.

      I was sad to miss the panel you did with Sage and Christi, but it sounds like it was a terrific conversation.

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