Community, in New Form (and Name)
Last year, the conference marked its 30th anniversary. Reflecting on this milestone, we were struck by the relationships and sense of community that have developed in our midst over the decades. Pulitzers and National Book Awards have been won by our faculty; established writers have mentored new, uncertain ones; alumni have published their own works, enrolled in MFA programs, and started publications and workshops of their own; friendships and writing partnerships have been formed; stories, poems and books have been written.
The community is a source of inspiration in so many ways, but managing director Andrea Bewick remembers one example in particular. During the mid-1990s, Michael Cunningham was a frequent instructor, and over the years shared several early versions of _The Hours_ during conference readings. She recalled, “Those of us who heard him read in those years heard versions of that novel that never made it into print. We saw him working, and re-working, that draft, and were able to watch it evolve and deepen into the novel it eventually became. There’s something incredible — extraordinary — about having a first-row seat to the birth of a novel, especially one like that. And yet this happens, again and again, at Napa. It’s a place where the faculty feel comfortable enough to read from works that are still under construction, to read from pages that are often fresh from a printer. They often engage in the same acts of writing and sharing they require of their students. … The community here is intimate, and because we tend to draw participants and faculty back to us, year after year, it also tends to be lasting.”
In the spirit of lasting community, as the conference begins a new decade we’re establishing this blog as another way to foster a sense of fellowship among past and present participants, faculty and staff. While pundits already predict the demise of the blog, we believe a format longer than 140 characters is most conducive to sharing news and reviews of publications from the conference community, links to articles of interest, musings on the writing life — and, of course, updates about the conference itself and coverage of the week’s events. We’ll cross-post blog entries to our Facebook page, where we hope you’ll join the conversation as well.
We look forward to building this new outpost of the conference community together. Please chime in — not only if you have book news to share, but if you have ideas for blog topics, suggestions for links, requests for information or feedback in any form. **And we need your help: what shall we name this virtual community conversation? Suggest the name we adopt for the blog, and we’ll send you a signed book of your choice from a 2011 faculty member. Contribute your ideas in the comments!** _(Click the headline of this post if you don’t see a comment form below.)_