Every year the Japan Writers Conference is an event that is free and open to the public. Those who write in English provide presentations, discussions, and workshops on a variety of subjects. Though thrown by writers for writers, it is a great opportunity for those interested in the creative process to gain new insight into a variety of fields.
This year the JWC took place in Nishihara, Okinawa on November second and third. It was my first time attending the conference so I was excited to explore the forum and participate.
I flew in the previous night (living on an outer island means I have to do things like that) and met up with a few of the presenters at a local pub for an informal meetup. Due to the flight I showed up a bit late but managed to meet a few people before the place cleared out.
Since I had one of the first presentation slots I woke up early, jumped on the monorail and then took a taxi up to the Okinawan Christian University which provided the venue for the conference (free of charge!). Despite most of the attendees visiting from outside the prefecture we managed to get things set up and going in time for my 10:00 presentation.
I gave a talk about my experience getting published while living on an outer island. While I don’t consider myself an expert I hope my talk inspired budding authors or at least gave a few hints for those looking at getting published while living on an island (as we all do in Japan).
From there, things got more interesting as I had an opportunity to chat with local teachers, other writers, and people interested in writing. Time was short but between each presentation it was fun to bump into new people and get to know other attendees. Each hour there were three options so I didn’t get to see every presentation. I was able to sit in on
- David Gregory’s “Get it Together! Organizing Your Writing Work Before, During, and After”
- Autumn Widdoes’s “Performative Words: Writing for and Making Performance”
- James Crocker, Kelly Quinn, Steve Redford and Gareth Jones’s “Introducing The Font Literary Journal – a publication about teaching and learning languages in Japan and other countries”
- Todd Jay Leonard ‘s ”Traditional vs. Print-on-Demand Publishing: The ‘Pros and Cons’ and the ‘Ins and Outs’ of Doing it Successfully”
- Robert Tobin’s “How To Give A Talk They’ll Remember: Tips for Writers”
Probably the most interesting thing about the conference is the breadth of information covered with everything from poetry to performance all in one place. In addition to the seminars many authors had their books available for perusal and purchase.
The After Party
Of course, no conference is complete without an after party. Around 50 presenters and attendees crashed restaurant RIZE for a buffet after the first day of conferences ended. Those who came were filled with food and drinks while readings of favorite poetry were given by select presenters. I also ran a giveaway with a copy of Samurai Awakening and the upcoming Revenge of the Akuma Clan.
While there, I was able to meet a few more people including Hugh Ashton, Percival Constantine, Hiromi Mizoguchi, Hans Brinckmann and a host of other interesting people I look forward to hearing from again.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the second day of the conference, but Tom Baker was. Checkout his blog for his reaction to the conference and see the video he put together below.
Of course, there needs to be a very special thank you to John Gribble and Bern Mulvey who organize the event each year. They put a lot of work into making this free event happen. Visit http://japanwritersconference.org for more information and keep an eye out for next year! If you’re in any of the pictures below (and would like one or think I took a picture of you and it’s not shown below) let me know if you’d like a digital copy via the comments below and I’ll send one off to you.