by Stephanie West Allen
I have explored a number of writing-focused conferences and seminars in the last few years and have found that each has a different structure and feel. Almost like different cuisines ranging from down-home comfort food to complicated, formal gourmet. The comfort food end of the continuum can be too casual, unstructured, and perky for me. The gourmet end can leave an attendee feeling confused by the number of ingredients and unengaged from remote presenters and keynoters. I’ve often called WWW a Goldilocks conference: just right.
The Marcus Whitman which opened in 1928 is not only beautiful (I can’t believe those wonderful mahogany pillars were once painted Pepto Bismol pink by a misguided owner) but also for me was calming, grounding, and inspiring. Perhaps the venue immediately communicated that special aura because I could sense the building’s history. Whatever the magic was, the Marcus Whitman Hotel provided a perfect container for all the conference activities. For the creation of the 2018 conference, Shanna Hatfield deserves many, many thanks. I was especially grateful for the evening tour during which she guided us through the Marcus Whitman telling us about the place we were going to be spending several days.
Within a very short walking distance of our hotel was the town of Walla Walla. I explored this wowing town a number of times because it offered so much. The smell and colors of fall leaves; the fun, inspiring, or sometimes surprising public art; one old building after another, each with its own story! I must confess that more than once I visited Bright’s Candies on Main Street where a visitor can watch the candy being made, buy some of those on-site produced treats, and leave with an ice cream cone. One of the friendly people at the hotel front desk told me Bright’s owner is called the Willy Wonka of Walla Walla.
I was attracted to WWW because of the people I met at the first conference I attended. They were writing about the West I appreciate so much through many diverse lenses and in different genres. I recall fascinating conversations. And something else was obvious: all these WWWers were genuinely supportive of each other’s writing success. My initial impressions have been reaffirmed at each conference since. This year was no exception.
All the W’s this year made for some fun. Women Writing the West (WWW) in Walla Walla, WA (WWW). I added three W’s in the workshop I presented. And there are two more W’s in a succinct and accurate description of this year’s conference: WOW!
Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar and has mediated for over 25 years. She is the author of Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook and many articles on workplace and professional issues. To learn more, visit https://westallen.typepad.com/about.html.