Monday, September 22, 2008

The Omaha Literary Festival

When I learned of the Omaha Lit Fest a couple months ago, I knew I had to go. Not only is it a comfortable drive, but we have family outside the city. And it's all about writing! So I booked reservations at my aunt and uncle's house early and, though I didn't know what to expect, I looked forward to it for weeks.

Here's just before I left the house Saturday morning. (It's hiding behind my tote there, but my belly's full of egg and cheese casserole, cantalope, and cherry turnover. Mmm.) We joked about "my first day of school," because I had a few butterflies. But despite my excited smile, I was really neither bright-eyed nor bushy-tailed. (That didn't come until after coffee later...)

So knowing my mom and aunt had plans with my daughters (the hubs stayed home for work), thus creating freedom for me, I set off for downtown Omaha.

I parked several blocks from the venue and started out on foot, seeing these beautiful scenes along the way. Funny, the two extremes.



The Fest commenced at Aromas Coffee House, where you could fuel up and peruse the participating authors' titles. I didn't buy any books (shocking!) but had an absolutely nummy... drum roll, please... iced mocha (not shocking!).
Then I walked a block and a half to the Bemis Center, where all hour-long panel discussions took place. Two rooms were set up and, depending upon the topic you wanted to see, you could float between the two. (If you're curious, you can click on the link above and see the discussion topics under events.)



The whole ambience was urban, sophisticated, artsy, liberal. It was a very cool experience. But, though I'd expected it, I learned the genres and topics discussed had more to do with literary fiction and what I'll call "gritty" non-fiction than anything I typically write. That said, there was a lot discussed that didn't resound with me... yet still a whole heckuvalot that did. Regardless of medium or content, much hit on more general writerly themes, and I absorbed it all. I loved sitting there, inconspicuous and quiet, listening. I took gobs of notes and snagged some take-home literature.
Though the authors and panelists were none I'd ever heard of, they're all successful within their niches. It was great to hear their stories of work and success, to see what they've made of their careers. The experience was a definite encouragement that propelled my desires, and assured me of the place I fit into within the literary world.
My hope was that I would get my toes wet, and feel ready to take on a workshop or conference. And I think I'm ready!
I hope everyone had as great a weekend as I did. And I hope you have a great week with lots of writerly accomplishment!

PS. Sorry for the smooshed-together format. I tried to fix it, but when pictures are added it saves and publishes the way it wants to. *sigh*

20 comments:

Melanie Avila said...

It sounds like you had a great time! I'm so jealous. :) Just being surrounded by other writers would seem like such an inspiration. I can't wait to see what it inspires in you.

Jen said...

Janna! I am only fifty miles from Omaha! I wish I'd known you were going (bad me!), I'd have found a way to show up and meet you in person. *pouts*

Maybe next time?

Sounds like you had a great time! P.S. Thanks for the post on blog backgrounds...I snagged one for my own!

Janna Qualman said...

Aw, Jen, seriously? That bums me out big time. :( And don't blame you, blame me. If I'd announce where I was goin', we could have worked it out. I was afraid (paranoid) about telling the cyberworld where I'd be and when beforehand...

But we go up there a few times a year (my grandma is nearby, too) and we should definitely hook up for lunch!

WendyCinNYC said...

That sounds like an interesting festival.

Nice pics, cutie!

Janna Qualman said...

It was, definitely. I'm wondering if all lit fests are likewise categorized, or if they ever vary in discussed genres. Hm.

Thanks, Wendy. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

You were in my neck of the woods, too! (I live in Lincoln). I had heard about the festival, but didn't go as my daughter and I had a planned outing to visit and play with baby tigers (which I blogged about today)in another town about 80 miles away.

Janna Qualman said...

Well, shoot. Next time I'll be more up front, and we can meet up!

Jen said...

Yes, Janna, we'll definitely have to hook up for lunch! That would be awesome.

I understand the paranoia, though. Teh intrawebz can be a scary place sometimes.

Janna Qualman said...

*thinking of reason to return to NE right away*

:)

crazynance said...

Wow Janna, famous writers have to have a certain amount of famiosity! Like book signings, or pre-book signings, query signings! :D

Janna Qualman said...

Hi, crazynance! *waves*

Rachel Burton said...

What an awesome way to spend the weekend - thanks for sharing!

And now I'm going to obsessively try new backgrounds with your linky...

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks for swinging by, Rachel! Let me know if/when you've chosen a fancy look. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Glad you had such a good weekend. Isn't it great to submerge yourself in the writing world every now and then...away from home and routine?

I think you can click and drag on your photos to move them around on your blog, or at least it's worked for me a few times.

Janna Qualman said...

Angie - It was nice, to step out of my routine and do something like that. I hope to do it again!

Joshua said...

awesome cous, sounds like you had tons of fun. Its nice to have some me time and when you can do it doing something you love, its even better :)

Terri Tiffany said...

I loved your "going to school" picture. I was looking forward to hearing about this! SOunds like it was fun! Love all the pictures too. And thanks for saying that about the lack of white space when pictures are added--it happened to me and I wondered why!

Joanne said...

What a nice experience for you. It sounds like it showed a different side to the "writing world" than the solitary one. Can you share any specific themes/tips/advice you might have learned there?

aaroncrocco said...

Sounds like you had a good time! I understand if thing don't resonate totally with you, but even general writing themes help. Glad you had a good time. I wish I had the time / money / availability to go to these conferences here in NY.

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne, I'll answer your question in tomorrow's post!

And Aaron, the fest I attended was entirely free... except $3 on the coffee I bought. ;) Check online and see if there are any such events in your area, and then you'll only be out the time and fuel costs. Hope you find something!