One day, we shall meet again, and boy, the stories we will tell…
Writing is a solitary existence, but desperately in need of company, an audience, characters in real people waiting to come out. In the age of COVID-19, isolation and loneliness breed a new kind of storyteller — intuitive, deeply feeling, a legacy in the making.
The Shakespeares and Victoria Woolfs of today can still weave fetching, fanciful tales from the comfort of their homes, like always, yet can no longer go forth freely into the Great Blue Yonder — not without a few provisions — and mingle with future swashbucklers and romantic damsels to flesh out those crucial, character-driven details. The world’s gone inward, distilled into digital pixels, maddening reruns, and cloaked intentions, moments, fragments, the shorthand of anxiety, fear, and rising dread amidst a sunbeam of hope.
In Edmonds, the art and hope of writing converges on two major points: an annual fall writers conference and the indie bookshops, long may they wave. Both provide plenty of fuel for literary artists to feel inspired, and fight the good fight, to prevail against the darkness with a spark at the end of this long, grey tunnel.
The Art of Writing
Write on the Sound (WOTS), a 34-year institution, coaxes novelists, short story writers, and poets out from every corner of the globe in the fall, virtually as of 2020. They come for valuable insight, mentoring, resources and references, fellowship and validation, testimony. Initially started as a one-day event by the City of Edmonds Arts Commission in 1985, WOTS’s since expanded to the first full weekend in October, every October, offering over 30 workshops and panel discussions, a keynote speaker, a writer’s contest for cash prizes, manuscript/poetry critiques, and open mic sessions. Writers from the U.S. and Canada — limited to roughly 275 attendees — learn about the craft of writing foremost and the nuts-and-bolts business of how to get published.
Past speakers include Ann Rule, Anne Lamott, Robert Ferrigno, Dale Furutani, Timothy Egan, Craig Lesley, and Diana Abu-Jaber. In 2020, the keynote speaker was the co-founder of Open Road Integrated Media, an eBook seller. Jane Friedman is also the former HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide President and CEO and published a book called, “The Business of Being a Writer.” The weekend event takes place at Frances Anderson Center, a former 1920s school building on 700 Main Street. The 2021 date is tentatively set for Oct. 1-3, virtual or in-person, depending on the status of COVID-19.
An independent bookseller since 1972, Edmonds Bookshop on 111 5th Ave. S. celebrates the literary arts with Women’s Prize for Fiction, Washington State Book Award winners, assorted book signings-turned-video shares, featured authors, virtual book clubs, book talks, interviews and book reviews, info on eBooks, literary podcasts, and recommendations. The bookshop is a vital part of Write on the Sound as a source for recommended books by featured speakers/session presenters. While big box book stores are going under, this quaint little bookshop still does booming business with faithful readers and aspiring/published writers. The bookshop is open at 25 percent reduced capacity with COVID protocols in place. Curb-side pick-up, free local delivery, and free domestic shipping (USPS) also available.
Held together and strengthened by the bonds between bookshops and their faithful, neighborhood readers/writers...
The Neverending Bookshop, moved from Bothell to Edmonds only a few years ago, remains a haven for magic and the magicians casting spells and wielding wonderful other worlds through words. Held together and strengthened by the bonds between shop owner Annie Carl and faithful, neighborhood readers/writers, this indie bookshop was first conceived in the magical mind of Carl as a 10-year-old. Everything fanciful resides in this time-out-of-mind space at 7530 Olympic View Drive, Unit 105. Besides carrying fantasy, romance, sci-fi, mystery, young adult, and children's books, new and used, Carl — an amazing woman with her own amazing story — will also entertain the sale of your books for store credit. She also hosts weekly and monthly events, like virtual readings and lively conversations by favorite authors, as well as serious talks about some of the world's problems, and book club meetings.
Banner Photo of Edmonds Bookshop owner Mary Kay Sneeringer, courtesy of Edmonds Downtown.