Monday, August 17, 2015

Searching For Wallace Stegner - Miles To Go.

Lake Willoughby was to be the second stop of my 48 hour journey. Waking up to the sound of a train in White River Junction got me active pretty quickly, and I had some time to kill before my rent a car was available. Drank some coffee from the lobby, grabbed a juice and scarfed down a breakfast bar I brought with me.

Checking out of the hotel I sat down and waited for the rental company to pick me up. I was able to see just about everything that happens in town by looking over either shoulder. Soon a car with the word THRIFTY on the side of it pulled up. Guess that would be my ride.

Rising up the highway with the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont rising as well, it looked like I would have a good day in Greensboro for my writers conference. Getting off the highway in Saint Johnsbury, and retracing my path thru Danville and in to town. Pulling the car next to the tent where the conference was to take place, the rain started falling. Figures! I was a little early, and I waited for the shower to subside, before grabbing my laptop and making my way into the dark tent.

During the conference, I noticed that even though Wallace Stegner is mentioned often, and is one of the reasons that the writers series exists, the locals don't really care quite as much about what he did outside of Greensboro. I am the resident expert about his life in Saskatchewan, and to a smaller extent, in California and Utah. In this small, lovely Vermont town, the people are mostly focused on their own, and were less enthusiastic about the outside world beyond the Northeast Kingdom. "Fair enough" I thought. It really is about them and their town, so I sat back and listened to three elderly gentlemen talk at length about memoir writing.

One of them then looked at me and noticed my laptop. It was then that I was referred to as being part of the "new generation of writers" in Greensboro. I explained that my penmanship is horrible and my hand cant keep up with my thoughts, so blogging and writing on a laptop is much better suited for my short attention span and sloppy handwriting. He knew I was a little caught off-guard, and told me later that Stegner once told him that he was considering quitting the business of writing because he couldn't find a good fountain pen anymore. These men were giants at their professions, and I am really just a pretender among them, trying to get noticed somehow, in an effort to figure out where it could lead to next.

Writing to make sense of it all.

I paid close attention to them as they spoke, hoping I would learn something among their golden words. As the conference ended, a huge rain storm struck, and nobody could hear their conversation with the sound of the downpour on the canvas tent. It was time to wrap things up, and so I took my laptop, and briskly walked to my rented car to head to Lake Willoughby.  

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