Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blooming in Unlikely Places: LTUE 31

There is an established order to things: movies come out of Hollywood and books come out of New York. The coasts are where the interesting things happen and the middle states are what you fly over. And in an established order, you must go to the center if you want to succeed. No one will find you if you set up shop off the beaten path.

Except when they do. Sometimes if you build it, they do come.

Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) 31 will meet on February 14 – 16, 2013 in Provo, Utah. The symposium organized thirty-one years ago by a BYU professor has grown into one of the largest writing conferences in the Intermountain West.

Provo? Utah? There’s nothing there but snow, salt, and a peculiar religious tradition, right?

Actually, Utah boasts a surprising — some would say disproportionate — number of writers. And LTUE is only one of nearly a dozen writing conferences held in Utah. It’s hard to say whether the number of writers grew because of the conferences, or the conferences because of the writers, but we have a vibrant, vital writing community out here in what many would say is the middle of nowhere.


Because no one took any notice of the fact that portions of Utah look remarkably like Tatooine or that their Western home was far away from the bright center of the publishing universe. Instead, they devoted themselves to what they loved: they wrote and they found like-minded people who wanted to get together periodically and talk about writing. They didn’t worry (too much) about what was going on elsewhere or, more importantly, what anyone else thought.

Sometimes the best way to succeed is to forget about the established order, pursue your fascination, and simply invite others to share what you’ve discovered.

For those of you in the area, I will be sharing two presentations at LTUE 31: “Verisimilitude: How Illusions, Confidence Games, and Skillful Lying Can Improve Your Fiction,” (Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm) and “Weaving a Complex Narrative: How to Write Like J.R.R. Tolkien in Three Easy Steps,” (Friday, February 15, 2013 at 11:00 am). I’ll also be holding forth on various panels about anachronisms, archetypes, and anthropology. (And if you’re a real glutton for punishment, stop me in the hallway.)

Image: Simon Howden /

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