At this year’s Wordstock Festival on October 9th and 10th, we asked attendees to do a little writing. Writers chose between four photographs (generously donated by the Oregon Historical Society) to use as a writing prompt for a (very) short story.
Here are the top three winning stories and their corresponding photographs. Thanks so much to all the writers who volunteered to use their imaginations, the stories were a blast to read. Winners after the jump…
Wordstock has been very good to me over the years — especially since 2008. That was the year that I finally got to meet my future publisher, Gary Luke of Sasquatch Books, and seal the deal on my book project. I pitched Food Lover’s Guide to Portland in August of 2008 and after a lengthy correspondence and several phone conversations (Sasquatch Books is based in Seattle) we had our first face-to-face at Wordstock that fall.
I brought a stack of notes and a backpack full of guidebooks — food and otherwise — some for their inspiring design, others for content. We looked through everything and talked logistics in a quiet spot on the upper level of the convention center. After about twenty minutes we put work aside and started a conversation we’ve been having ever since about our favorite Pacific Northwest food and drink. Mostly drink.
We daydreamed of sazeracs, talked homemade bitters and shared notes on local spirits. Gary is passionate about fine drinks which is why every time I’ve been up to Seattle since I’ve brought treats from Portland including my homemade dandelion wine and 12 Bridges Gin. The last time I was in Gary’s office he had a hard to find, out of print 1950s cocktail book that I got to check out — — Bottom’s Up by Ted Saucier. If you can get your hands on a copy of this book consider yourself lucky. It’s a rarity and usually goes for $200 and up, way up. I never knew there was a cocktail called Angel’s Tit. I found it in the book. Try ordering that at your local.
The next year, Wordstock 2009, was also a milestone since it was my first time wearing the Hawthorne Books’ hat as a newbie editor. I had just turned in my manuscript for Food Lover’s Guide to Portland a couple weeks prior and was hired right afterward by Hawthorne — one of my favorite Portland publishing houses.
So now I just finished Wordstock 2010. I got to be a Wordstock author reading on stage for Sasquatch Books AND table/vend there as an editor for Hawthorne Books. My book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland is in the world and people are reading it, liking it and talking about it. I’m grateful, I’m happy. I love my life and I love Portland.
Thank you Wordstock for tending and building on such a fantastic literary community in Portland. If I could put you in my pocket or wear you around my neck I would because you’ve brought me an unbelievable amount of good luck over the years. Rub the Wordstock belly, kiss the Wordstock toes and I bet you’ll be treated well too.
Unfortunately, yes. But what a festival it was! The unanimous feeling here at Wordstock HQ is that the 2010 festival was our best ever. The thank you notes and emails of congratulations have been pouring in — from exhibitors, from festivalgoers, from sponsors, and especially from our featured authors, who seem to be absolutely in love with Portland. Chalk one up for books, writers, and storytelling!
We’re still cleaning up the aftermath of the festival, and should be back to normal soon. Stay tuned for news about the 2011 festival — we should be ready to announce the dates very, very soon!
With so many authors visiting us at Wordstock this year, it’s been a bit difficult to keep up on all the buzz for their new works. Here’s a prime example that was just brought to our attention: Adrienne McDonnell’s new novel, The Doctor and the Diva, has been getting terrific reviews like this one in the Washington Post. While we’ve been trying our hardest to provide great coverage for all of our writers, this one slipped through the cracks. Which, if you read the review, is a shame.
McDonnell’s not the only Wordstock 2010 author with great book news right now, of course, and not the only one we’ve failed to bring to you. What about Lan Samantha Chang? Joseph Skibell? Ander Monson? We could go on.
The silver lining here is that the 2010 roster is jam packed with success stories like these. Which means that even if you don’t get a chance to do your homework before the festival, you can walk into the book fair and be assured of an awesome experience from one of the 200+ performers we’ll have onstage this weekend.
Guest post by Maile Meloy
Author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, the book club pick of the Wordstock Festival, Maile Meloy will read and answer readers’ questions on Saturday, October 9 at 2 pm on the Powell’s Books Stage. That same day she will also participate in a panel discussion, “The State of the Story,” at 4pm on the McMenamins Stage.
People often ask me about the role of place in my stories, and lately I’ve been thinking about how the setting defines the characters or influences their actions. I don’t think of place as a character in itself, but the setting is usually essential—the thing I know from the start and the thing the story couldn’t happen with out.
In “Travis B.,” one of the stories in Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, a ranch hand meets a disoriented young lawyer named Beth Travis, who’s driving nine hours across Montana twice a week to teach a class in a tiny town near the ranch where he works. The story can’t exist without the vast breadth of Montana to drive across. That the cowboy drives that distance to find Beth, when she doesn’t show up in class, tells her what he couldn’t say in words. The last story, “O Tannenbaum,” could only take place in a rural place in winter, in the woods where people cut down Christmas trees, and where they would pick up a pair of hitchhikers with a broken ski, because otherwise the skiers could die in the snow. The place determines, to a degree, who the people are and what they do.