Here's my last installment of posts on the NonFiction Now conference. [If you want to read the first three posts on NFN, you can find the first one here, the second here, and the third here.]
→ Best “extra” I almost passed by: The Prairie Lights Bookstore. I know, it’s a legend, but I had overspent on books (is there such a thing?) for weeks before, and the travel expenses were making me feel far more frugal than usual, so I had vowed (to no one in particular, thank goodness), not to buy books this trip. When my friend returned from the literary shrine, with tales of entire walls devoted to literary nonfiction, shelf upon shelf of literary journals lining the (non-chain) café, well, I had to relent. And since the credit card bill has yet to arrive, I can still marvel at my good fortune at not missing this experience.
→ Best program event I almost didn’t attend: A short talk by literary documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee, and screening of his Bright Leaves. If you ever wonder what a personal, memoir-like narrative looks like on film, resonant with the author’s own voice, with all the reflection intact – and none of the dots connected for you with the redundancy and overarching simplicity of Hollywood – this is it. And funny, too.
→ Best budget-friendly ways to meet other writers: Sharing the cost (and 30 minutes) of the shuttle van to/from the airport, at the bank of free computers with Internet access in the basement of the Memorial Union, queuing up for an inexpensive soup and sandwich at the River Café.
→ Best meet-up: Hanging with seven graduates of the Stonecoast MFA program (where I’m still in fourth semester). Very motivating to listen to them discuss and debate their post-MFA lives -- getting published, getting energized by a new genre, getting on with the writing life.
→ Best thing about watching so many “established” writers make presentations, perform readings and field questions: At various times, almost all at times make mistakes, stumble over a word here and there, say something questionable, appear nervous and look relieved when their time is up.
Just like the rest of us. Phew.