Key West Literary Seminar 2013

Key West Literary Seminar 2013 Stage
Key West Literary Seminar 2013 Stage

by Sharon Harrigan

Sharon Harrigan, a friend and fellow WriterHouse member, was the Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award recipient at KWLS this year, and I asked her to share her thoughts on the experience.  Thanks, Sharon, and congrats again on a much deserved award.

If the view out your window is anything like mine right now—snow on slippery sidewalks—let me offer you this mid-winter writer’s daydream: Flip flops and floppy hats on beach cruiser bikes to stir up inspiration. The sun so bright on the ocean you can swim in it every day of the year, like Tennessee Williams did. The descendants of Hemingway’s cats lounging at his house under flowering shrubs, just the sight of their softness somehow making your prose more muscular. Cafe con leche and guava pastries before writing workshop with Hilma Wolitzer at Judy Blume’s house. Panels and presentations by literary superstars like Colm Toibin, Brad Gooch, and Billy Collins, followed by dinners with the speakers and your fellow workshop writers at the lighthouse, near the southernmost tip of North America. Finally, after a corkscrew climb down the winding steps, a pink taxi or pedi-cab waits to deposit you in the jacuzzi at your bed and breakfast (aptly called, of course, Authors’ House).

It’s not a day dream. It’s called the Key West Literary Seminar. I was able to attend for the first time, last month, and the experience still helps me write more brightly, whatever gray days may arrive, outside my window or in my head.

The seminar takes place every January, and there are three ways you can attend—as a winner of one of the three prizes, as a scholarship participant, and as a general attendee. I was lucky enough to be the Joyce Horton Johnson Award recipient this year. For more information, see the seminar’s web site: http://www.kwls.org/

Spread the word about KWLS. I wouldn’t have known about it at all if it weren’t for my fellow WriterHouse members who won the award in previous years (hooray for Kristen-Paige Madonia, George Kamide, and CHRISTY STRICK!).  It must be something WriterHouse puts in the water, or maybe good things just happen when you’re part of a fabulously smart and encouraging literary community. Thank you, Christy, for all your tips on Key West and everything else.

Sharon Harrigan has published over three dozen short stories, essays, and reviews in such journals as Narrative, The Rumpus, and The Nervous Breakdown.

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