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  • Writer's pictureLizzy Shannon

Willamette Writers Conference

The annual Willamette Writers Conference rolled around again last weekend. It seems no time at all since the last one in 2012.

I pitched a screenplay to two film producers. I particularly liked one of them, who had (voluntarily!) traveled to Belfast because she wanted to find out for herself exactly what 'The Troubles' were about.

On the funny/uncomfortable side, in the elevator another manager/producer turned to me and announced, "You look very familiar." I smiled and told him my name, and as he heard my accent his face fell and he said, "Oh. You pitched to me a couple of years ago."

I resisted the retort that came to mind: Yes, the one you practically called a liar when you didn't believe my screenplay was semi-biographical. Instead, I went into babble-mouth mode, as I really didn't know what to say at all, and Northern Irish style I filled all available silence. Having an accent can be both a blessing and a curse!

As Awards Chair, I presented the Kate Herzog Scholarship and Kay Snow Writing Contest Awards at the Gala Banquet on Saturday evening. I think this year we had more of the Kay Snow winners attending than ever before. It's so cool to be able to see their faces as they come up to receive their certificates. Particularly the student categories. The kids just beam with joy!

I gave another speech at the banquet, introducing William F. Nolan, who received the Willamette Writers Lifetime Achievement Award, this year. I get so nervous, no matter how many times I get up on stage. It's one thing acting a character in a play; quite another when it's just little old me. :-) But I think it went well, despite some good-natured heckling from Jason Brock, one of William's friends. (I'm not sure we've ever had heckling at the banquet before!) William's acceptance speech was wonderful, although far too short. He is an amazing man. He inspired us by sharing with us that at age seventy, rather than retiring, he began a whole new chapter in his life. He also entertained us with a Hollywood story, demonstrating the fickleness of the industry. :-)


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