Jeff Brady | 2017 North Words Writers Symposium Rundown

North Words Writers Symposium wrapped up in Skagway recently. Jeff Brady, co-organizer, provides a vicarious look at this year’s conference. ~ JP 

Paul Theroux experienced a hike to Laughton Glacier with North Words participants.

The 8th annual North Words Writers Symposium in Skagway was the biggest yet. About 40 participants from all over Alaska and the Yukon were extolled by keynote author Paul Theroux to get out and work hard to experience life worth writing about. Theroux championed traveling, which he is best at, while our own John Straley said those experiences can also be found close to home. We also were entertained with a fun sex writing panel and “afternoon delight” workshop with romance writer Lenora Bell (originally Lenore Nash from Haines). Avoid the word “moist,” she advised. Similarly, in another panel, Sherry Simpson cautioned us to avoid using “majestic” when describing anything in Alaska. Sherry and Deb Vanasse led us in early-bird workshops, and first-time North Words Alaska authors Tom Kizzia and Andy Hall also shared some great stories. We also took time to remember Oregon writer Brian Doyle, our 2016 keynote, who died from brain cancer the weekend before this year’s conference. His message to us a year ago was that we had a duty to go out and “catch stories.” Theroux took that a step further, launching into the experience of gathering those stories. This was Theroux’s and his wife Sheila’s first time in Alaska. He said it was “four of the best days he has spent anywhere in a long time.” We hope we see him again on a nearby river, railroad or highway. ~ Jeff Brady, North Words organizing faculty


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