“A Passage for Writers”
By Georgia I. Hesse
No ifs, ands, or buts about it (and no misplaced apostrophes either): The annual Travel Writers & Photographers Conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera played, worked, and karaoked its way through its 23rd year from Aug. 14 through 17. Even the weather gods seemed inspired, spilling warming sun rays and balmy breezes over the piazza.
Under the command of Fleet Admiral Elaine Petrocelli, and with Kathryn Petrocelli at the helm of the Good Ship BP, Captains Don George and Robert Holmes, aided by Commander Karen West, steered a clear course through the turbulent seas of travel writing. The voyage was exciting and enlightening and, as the French would so succinctly put it, vaut la peine. A faculty of 26 and a student body of 104 aspiring as well as accomplished writers sailed through lectures, panels, workshops, and compelling conversations.
“Good writing is hard work,” as the philosopher Snoopy has told us. (Shakespeare and Sappho would agree.) Travel writing can be downright intimidating. Indeed, the very word travel descends from travail (toil, labor), and if you follow its trail as far as Late Latin, you will discover torture. Writing itself, a child of Old Saxon wrītan, is related to “cut,” as into stone.
So what is the intent of this yearly festival for philomaths? Its aim is to pursue the teaching/learning of how to write right, whether in narrative stories, book-length memoirs, essays, journalism (newspaper and magazine pieces), or painting a portrait with a camera.
Over the years, the conference has cruised from the familiar waters of putting words on the page by means of a typewriter (or maybe even a plain old pen or pencil) to the stranger seas of e-culture and social media, from the simpler telling of tales to the magic of multimedia, from diary to the digital universe.
Next year’s sailing is scheduled for Aug. 13-16. It’s not too early to book your passage. Bon voyage!
[Note: This story originally appeared in the Nob Hill Gazette. It has been updated.]