By Rebecca Fish Ewan
1. HippoCamp, the brainchild of Donna Talarico-Beerman, in its third year, three-plus days of focus on creative nonfiction. p.s. Donna has way more amazing hair than shown here. I tend to put a little of myself in all my portraits and my hair sucks.
2. So funny. Waiting to forget the movie plot, so I can enjoy reading Riding in Cars with Boys by Beverly Donofrio, serial memoirist.
3. Dina Honour’s voice still resonates in my head. Keep an eye out for the army of women she’s amassing. They will save humanity.
4. All of the readers that followed Dina brought their own brand of awesomeness, reading from their debut books. Google them: Melanie Brooks, Joanne Lazar Glenn, Lara Lillibridge, Alexis Paige and Lisa Smith.
5. Their panel after the readings set a tone of generosity, humor and serious investigation of craft that echoed throughout the conference.
6. Gabriela Pereira presented a VITAL analytic for finding your groove as a writer. p.s. You don’t have to write 2,000 words a day just because Stephen King says so.
7. I love hybrid work, so duh, I’m going to this session. Lara Lillibridge cracked my head open even more.
8. Penny Guisinger & Alexis Paige. Flash CNF. Take off. Compress. Embody. Reflect. Land.
10. Athena Dixon’s advice: “Be Brave. Explore new avenues of yourself. Don’t exclude people. Put yourself in the shoes of marginalized writers/people. Be a voice for people who are marginalized. Don’t make people tokens.” Bingo! (Yes Bingo! we made our own bingo squares).
11. If I only remember 11 out of 20 words, should I go see a neurologist? No, because memory is a construct that we reconstruct all the time, so next week I’ll believe I remembered all 20 words. Huge relief.
12. I love when famous people don’t act famous. I love that Tobias Wolff admitted he can spend many hours alone in a chair “taking semicolons out and putting them back in again.”
13. I wish I had doodled everyone on the Flash Panel I was on, but first (Lisa Cottrell) I was too nervous, because I had to present next. Then I had to doodle Elane Johnson and her BALLS. Then I worried, if I sketch (Kate Meadows and Lisa Romeo), the audience will think I’m rude and not paying attention.
14. Then I saw this amazing nose (Sam Schindler) in profile and had to draw it.
15. Okay, by now my head is about to explode from all the thinking and learning it’s been doing. Shh, shh, listen. Dina said this. Okay. Platform. Pitch. Twitter. Acceptance 10%. Rejection 90%. Bottom line: write, submit, repeat. Find your voice. Find its place. Both exist.
16. This is advice gleaned from the list of mistakes writers make when querying/sending a proposal: Have a strong concept, a strong voice, a complete and polished manuscript, consider publishing costs, use spellcheck, listen to the agent/editor, match the execution to your pitch. p.s. Platform.
18. When Dinty feels inadequate as a writer, he worries that his nostrils are too big. I couldn’t see his nostrils from where I sat, but just want to point this out, so you know even Dinty W. Moore frets about silly things as a writer. He gave tons of sage advice that I hope he publishes somewhere soon, but I have enough words left here to pass this on: “Don’t hold anything back. Life is too short.”
19. Donna and Kevin. Seriously. Totally adorable. But underneath their exterior of major kind cuteness lies dedication and commitment. Donna has done the heavy-lifting for HippoCamp 15-17, helped out by a team of volunteers, including local rock star Kevin Beerman. Bravo Donna!
P.S. HippoCamp returns to Lancaster in late summer 2018. Details Here.
Rebecca Fish Ewan is the founder of Plankton Press (where small is big enough) and creates Tiny Joys & GRAPH(feeties) zines. She is a poet/cartoonist/professor/mom/writer and teaches in The Design School at Arizona State University. Her publications include work in Brevity, Femme Fotale, Survivor Zine and Hip Mama. She has two creative nonfiction books: A Land Between (JHUP, 2000) and By the Forces of Gravity, a memoir of cartoons and verse about a Berkeley childhood friendship cut short by tragedy, forthcoming from Books by Hippocampus. @rfishewan