Steamboat writer’s group celebrates 38 years of ‘A Day for Writers’
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Authors and inspiring writers everywhere enjoy the solitude of their craft. Being in the moment of a brilliant turn of phrase, a moment of realization about the subject matter, the final climb to the climax of a grand novel are, usually, discovered in the quiet moments of set-aside writing time.
But what happens when a writer hits the dreaded wall of writer’s block or find themselves stuck with no new direction in sight? What if an author wants to attempt something new and has no idea how? Where do they go?
For 38 years, the Steamboat Springs Writer’s Group has been helping to answer those questions, not only with their group, which was established in 1982, but also with their annual writers conference.
“This our 38th annual writers conference, called ‘A Day for Writers,’” said Barbara Sparks, one of the organizers of the conference. “The event start in 1982 and used to be held at CMC. The format has varied over the year.”
In that first year, the conference hosted David Lavender, an American historian and writer who focused primarily on the American West. Lavender published more than 40 books, including two novels, several children’s books and a memoir.
In 1990, the conference brought Barbara Steiner, Joe and Judy Sabah, Robert Pugel, Charlotte Hinger, Bill Roorbach, Carl Brandt, Rex Burns and Richard Maturi to Steamboat. Kathryn Black and Jody Rein taught in 2006. And last year’s conference featured Racheal Weaver and John Cotter, two fiction writers who focused on different aspects of the craft, such as revisions and writing in the third person.
The 2019 “A Day for Writers” brings in Emily Sinclair, an essayist, and Juan J. Morales, a poet. Sinclair will workshop on the voice of the nonfiction writer, and Morales will discuss becoming an activist through poetry.
“Subjects are selected based on requests and suggestions from conference participants who fill out evaluations at the end of each conference,” Sparks said.
And the participants are as unique as the authors who visit.
“It’s always a mixed group of writers interested in everything from historical fiction, mysteries, personal essays, poetry, memoirs as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and blogs,” Sparks said.
This year’s mix will also include the first recipient of the group’s scholarship, which allows a high school student to attend the conference — Liz Ruzicka, an upcoming senior at Steamboat Springs High School.
“Her outstanding short essay and poem signal an up and coming young writer,” Sparks said.
What: Steamboat Springs Writers Group
When: Noon to 2 p.m. every Thursday
Where: Trout Creek Room at Routt County Courthouse Annex, 136 Sixth St.
Besides educating on different subjects as well as drawing in a colorful array of writers, the atmosphere also makes the annual event a one-of-a-kind day.
“While the format of the conference and location have changed, what makes it unique is the feel of an intimate gathering among friends,” Sparks said.
Unlike large conferences that require participating writers choose between different breakout sessions, the authors in Steamboat are able to workshop together. This is because each conference is capped at 40 participants.
While registration for this year’s annual conference ended on Thursday, July 25, the Steamboat Springs Writer’s Group meets weekly, providing support and encouragement to each other through the writing process, helping everyone get through the break between conferences. The group meets from noon to 2 p.m. every Thursday. Their summer location is the Trout Creek Room at the Routt County Courthouse Annex, 136 Sixth St. As summer comes to a close, they will return to the Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.