It was my intention to read all the literature in the packet I received from the conference before writing this post. It isn't going to happen. If I wait until I accomplish that, it will be over and a memory.
So, I'll share with you my experiences and impressions yesterday of seeing over three hundred (300!) people participating in this event. It was shocking to see that many people, mostly from out of town and out of this country of Mexico, here in San Miguel for the conference.
The event has been held for several years at the Hotel Real de Minas which has lovely grounds and many rooms to accommodate the participants.
Arriving about lunch time, the roar of people having the buffet lunch was somewhat staggering. Tables were set up in the dining area as well as outside in the beautiful, warm sunshine under clear azure blue skies.
Each person that I met commented about the incredible weather. Many had hardly been able to get out of where they lived, because of snow and weather. Many jokingly, I think, said they are not leaving. It was 79F here yesterday, thankfully.
While waiting for the talk by Tracy Chevalier who wrote, among other things, "Girl with the Pearl Earring", I wandered the grounds to visit the Bookstore and the Artisan's Marketplace. Here is some of what I saw.
We all appreciate seeing this expanse of green. Probably those coming from the Northwest where white is the predominant color at present, enjoyed it as well.
cooks and staff work hard to make sure all are happy and satisfied.
"Those who are returning" (large group). Those from the USA and those from Canada. Lots. Then she asked for all the Mexicans and quite a lot stood. The biggest round of applause was for this group! Yeah.
Susan's comments to the Mexican participants was heartwarming as she expressed her love for the people and country of Mexico. She urged all at the conference to embrace the people, the culture and the town.
Earlier, while waiting for Tracy, I spoke with several participants. To meet these accomplished, published writers was a delight. Their interests were fascinating.
One woman, Bonnie Lee Black, from Taos, New Mexico wrote a book on "How to Make an African Quilt".She wrote this after spending time in West Africa and realizing that teaching the women how to quilt would assist them in making a living to take care of their families. I could have talked with her for hours. Her book was published by Nighthawk Press. Hope I hear from her again.
Another woman that I met and talked with was Penny Pearlman, who wrote a non-fiction book called "Pretty Smart, Lessons from our Miss Americas". She lives in Westport, Ct. What a dynamic woman with many interests.
Last but not least, as I was out on the grounds, I met a 40 year old woman, Christy Crutchfield from Ardmore, Oklahoma. She told me she had just turned 40 and decided to come to the conference. She is a blog writer as well. When she said Ardmore, Oklahoma, I remarked that a fascinating female attorney from
Ardmore has come to stay in my guest house twice. She immediately said Cherie Clark. It's a small, small world. Cherie Clark reads the blog and has for years. Hi Cherie! Don't you just love all these synchronistic things that happen in our lives? I relish them.
Christy and I talked for a while as I told her that her life is just beginning. That I had started my business at 40 and it was the time of my life. I hope we'll stay connected as well.
The talk by Tracy Chevalier was exhilarating. She started her career as a historical fiction writer at 30, about twenty years ago. She has written nine books since. The amount of research she does for each was surprising and daunting. As she spoke, I remembered how awed I was when reading "Girl with a Pearl Earring" in 1999.
Her writing is so lyrical and full of details that transport you to that time and place. Of course most of you
know that it was later made into a mesmerizing movie. Tracy said she was very surprised how that book has
changed her life. She lives with her husband and children in London, England but graduated from Oberlin in Ohio.
That was the first presentation I heard. Tonight I'll hear Scott Turow, a former attorney turned writer. His writing is extremely different then Tracy's. Then tomorrow morning, for me, Gloria Steinem will be the piece de resistance. Any woman who lived through the 60's, 70's and 80's owes a debt of gratitude to her whether you agree with all her viewpoints or not. She and a cadre' of other women spoke up and stood up for the rights of women. I will be honored to hear her speak. She is truly an icon of our generation.
There are so many other speakers. Alice Waters spoke last night Angeles Mastretta will speak on "The Emotion of Things"and Richard Blanco will speak on the fact that he was chosen to serve as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States. Not only are there lectures, there are workshops, roundtables, live theater, festivals. It IS the "whole enchilada".
My plans for next year - to start saving my money now to be able to go to all the things that are possible!
For way more information then I could possibly post here, search the web for the 10th Annual San Miguel Writers' Conference & Literary Festival. They have a magnificent website and a Facebook page as well.