Review: Potlatch 17

This past weekend I attended a West Coast Writer’s Convention called Potlatch 17. It serves as an outlet and a gathering for Clarion and Clarion West attendees and alumni. A potlatch is a PacNorthwest native american gathering that happened when tribes got together to exchange ideas and food and gifts. The name is a very fitting for this relaxed-style convention.

The website says that Potlatch is a “do it yourself” style convention. Unlike many cons, Potlatch doesn’t have a full selection of panels and workshops. They have a minimal offering, mostly suggestions that are designed to get you talking to others. When you’re there, they do have a postboard where attendees are encouraged to post “on the fly” seminars. These are called nanoprogramming.

However, this style convention seemed a bit TOO relaxed for my taste. I packed Thursday night and decided, after reading the final program billing, that this weekend was going to end up a working weekend. I packed several books, journals and my novel manuscript. The idea was, that if I didn’t see anything I was interested in doing, I could use the time away from convention gatherings to work on my own stuff.

That seemed to be the best thing to do. We ended up only attending one of the main programs: a panel on atheism and how sci-fi fit into it. While an interesting idea, the panel devolved into a diatribe on beliefs and religion and hardly any writing and ways to elevate the notion that atheism is not just about “not having any beliefs.”

My friend, Kim, who was one of the main reasons I went to Potlatch, summed up Potlatch best with, “potlatch seems to be a con for those who don’t get to see much of each other when going to other conventions.” Everyone seemed to know one another and got along very famously… while we, seemed to be on the outside, trying to figure out how to fit in.

We even tried to post a nanoprogram on Writers and Writing Groups but no one else joined in. We were hoping to hear back from people who’ve been in groups before and wanted to know what worked for them, how did they run and what worked, etc. Guess we’ll hafta find out from others about their opinions at a later date.

This weekend wasn’t a total disappointment. I DID need to get away from the house for a bit. Seattle was fun. This was the first time that I got to really spend some time in the University District. I got to revist the Gargoyles Statuary store (I haven’t been there in over 10 years). We stayed at the Hotel Deca and I loved the art deco style. Our room had swirlies in the carpet and harlequin wallpaper. The beds were plush and had many pillows.

I worked on one DIY Planner article, read some articles and books that I had been putting off, and also started editing my novel (17 pages)! I also got to sit and chat with writer Jay Lake, who told me how he edits his books (he was preparing another manuscript to send to his publisher this weekend). He does 3 passes, one for grammar, one for structure, and a third for loose ends. Seems a bit light…but then again, I’m sure there’s plenty of other reviews and drafts in there.

All in all, it was a nice weekend retreat but I am happy to be back home with my hubby and the cats. Potlatch 18 is going to be in San Francisco and I think I’ll be sitting that one out. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for and for me, doesn’t warrant another chance.

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