By B. J. Coleman
Writing is often a solitary, uncelebrated activity — involving only an author and the writer’s chosen recording method. The first-ever San Diego Writers Festival plans to challenge that model this month, by bringing writers and their readers together in a festive celebration of all creative written arts on Saturday, April 13, at the Downtown San Diego Central Library.
The brainchild of two local writers who also coach other writers, the inaugural San Diego Writers Festival offers a daylong series of events and interactive sessions, all centered on promoting more and better writing arts here locally. Marni Freedman and Jeniffer Thompson collaborated as co-founders of this initial foray into assembling San Diego County writers, their supporters and their writing business associates for a celebratory and educational mixer.
Freedman said there was a lot the inspiration and perspiration behind creating this project.
“We were on the ground ourselves,” Freedman said. “We looked around, and we saw lots of other little soldiers on the ground in fragmented groups.”
Freedman has worked with memoirists, fantasy writers and Christian theme writers, to name a few of those “fragmented” writer groups.
“When we can get these people together, we see an amazing transformation,” Freedman said.
Day events at the festival include children’s activities, including face painting and art bags just for kids. The night highlights more adult material.
Freedman explained that the original vision for a local writers festival was for three days on a San Diego community college campus. The daylong Central Library festival instead offers multiple simultaneous ongoing venues for creators and fans of written arts.
Pitch Fests, on a first come, first served schedule, will link writers with potential funders of their proposed projects. Successful debut writers will describe their first time in the spotlight for other budding not-yet-there comrades.
Breakout panels and topic sessions will discuss how “Black Stories Matter,” how military veterans fare post-service during “Incoming,” comedy writing, graphic novels, new approaches to poetry, women’s voices and different cultures.
This inaugural writers festival features a presentation of seven writing awards. The keynoter, who is slated to receive a special award, is Piper Kerman, who penned “Orange Is the New Black,” about her experiences as a prisoner and the coincident and subsequent prejudices and biases that beset her.
The festival organizers have vendor booths still available for $200 apiece. And the organizers are seeking more volunteers for assisting with the event.
Freedman expressed hopes that the event would be broadly inclusive for all writer voices, perspectives and points of view. She invited all practitioners and patrons of writing arts to feel welcomed. “If you feel your story isn’t represented, see me,” Freedman said in conclusion.
This event is free to the public.
— B. J. Coleman is a local freelance journalist and editor/staff reporter with 22nd District Legionnaire. B.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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