My name is Scott, and I’m a writer, which is to say, I’m someone who believes in the power of story. Before I see you in October, I’d like to tell you a bit about mine.
I’ll be 62 when the SCWW holds its conference. I have a stepson and a three-year-old son that my lovely wife and I were blessed with when I was 58 and she was 38. I’m something of a late-bloomer, in writing, as in life. Little Finn Scott is the best proof of that. My writing career supports that idea, too.
I came of age in the turbulent 1960s, when I founded and wrote for an alternative newspaper when I was sixteen years old. I didn’t pick writing back up in a serious way for 23 years.
Consider that less than a year before I went to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 1992, at 40 years of age, I had never heard of Bread Loaf, much less that organizations like it and SCWW even existed.
That’s really how out of it I was. I knew absolutely nothing about the complex maze of fiction, nonfiction, little magazines, conferences, agents, publishers and just about every other aspect of the writing world.
I’d been out of college for seventeen years, and while I knew a few journalists, I didn’t know a single fiction writer. Then a musician friend – who turned out to also be a published novelist and academic – told me about some writers’ conference with the funny name of Bread Loaf. I admitted to him that I had a secret desire, one I’d had since high school, to be what F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Harper Lee had been… a novelist, but that I had zero idea of how to begin. “Why don’t you apply?” he said. “It’s a community of writers. You’ll find your tribe.”
He was right. One month after I turned forty, I was in the Green Mountains at Bread Loaf, where the meadows, the forests, Robert Frost’s cabin and a lot of devoted writers and teachers opened my eyes. It was where I went from being a guy who wrote to a writer. But lots of people write. So what do I mean by a “writer”?
This: A person who puts the power of written words and language before everything but health and family; a person who devotes a large part of his or her life to creating something new and meaningful on the page – even if its “one true sentence,” as Hemingway said.
The fact that you’re reading this means it’s likely that you’re part of a community of diverse yet like-minded folks who want to put their thoughts out in the world for others to read and consider. People who want to make a difference through the written word, through story, in whatever form.
The community of writers that is SCWW is a rare and precious thing in this world, and one that I could not be happier to be a small part of. In this complex, beautiful, sometimes frightening world that needs poetry and stories to help make sense of it, our writing matters: as a call to action; as a balm to sooth a hurting soul; as a way to allow readers to escape into our imaginations and blend them with their own in order to give the narrative of their lives more meaning.
I very much look forward to seeing you this October, and to reading and hearing your stories – because they matter, and no one else can tell them but you.
Scott Lax, who will be on the 2014 SCWW faulty, is the namesake of the SCWW Scott Lax Scholarship to the Wildacres Writers Workshop. He is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, filmmaker, teacher and former professional drummer. Scott has been a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholar in Nonfiction and Sewanee Writers Conference Fellow in Fiction, as well as on faculty at numerous writers’ conferences and workshops, including Wildacres. He works by day as managing editor of a global tech firm in Cleveland, Ohio. His new novel is VENGEANCE FOLLOWS, published by Gray & Co this past February. His website is www.scottlax.com