Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writing the Future: A One-Day Conference at The Writer's Center, March 20

The Writer’s Center is pleased to host a special collaborative event: WRITING THE FUTURE, a one-day, information-packed conference for writers in all genres and media, reporters, editors, and publishers that will explore and explain the transitions and innovations taking place in the literary and publishing worlds. Register for this event here.

Following the WRITING THE FUTURE program we will have a CREATIVE NONFICTION LAUNCH PARTY from 5 to 7 p.m., which is FREE and open to the public.

Event: Writing the Future
When: March 20, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Where: The Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815
Admission: $90. Admission includes a FREE one-year subscription to the revamped Creative Nonfiction Magazine AND a FREE one-year membership to The Writer's Center.

Creative Nonfiction launch: 5:00-7:00 p.m. follows Writing the Future and is FREE and open to the public.

The panelists and presenters at WRITING THE FUTURE will address technological advancements affecting the ways information is delivered to readers, how the content itself will change, and what writers will need to know to remain relevant in the second decade of the 21st Century—and beyond.

Panelist Richard Nash, a former editor at Soft Skull Press and visionary founder of Cursor, a new social publishing medium, gets right at the heart of the dilemma facing writers today: “Most writers have avoided asking what goes on inside the sausage factory that up until recently semi-reliably connected them to their readership. It is now clear that gazes can no longer be averted, that an understanding of business models and technology is as much a part of a writer’s toolkit as an understanding of grammar and narrative tension.”

That understanding is what local poet and essayist Sandra Beasley, another of the scheduled panelists, sees as an opportunity for area writers. “What’s unique about this conference is that it addresses technology’s impact on publishing without reinforcing a specious divide between the ‘literary’ and ‘journalism’ communities. As creative nonfiction evolves as a genre, writers must adapt to survive.”

Lee Gutkind, the godfather of creative nonfiction, agrees. And adaptation, he adds, is exactly why this is a necessary conference right now. “Writing the Future will help writers understand and adjust to the transition that will be/and is taking place in the literary/publishing world for reporters, essayists, poets, editors—anyone and everyone involved in the writing world.”

Featured guests at WRITING THE FUTURE include Nick Bilton, NY Times tech writer and interface specialist; Richard Nash, former editor of Soft Skull Press, social publishing visionary, and founder of Cursor, a groundbreaking new publishing venture that uses social media; Peter Ginna, senior editor of Bloomsbury Press USA; Jack Sallay, VP of marketing for; Carolyn Forche, poet and essayist; Jeff Kleinman, literary agent, Folio Literary Management; Sandra Beasley, poet, essayist, and former editor of the American Scholar; Tom Shroder, writer and former editor, The Washington Post; Dan Sarewitz, co-director of Arizona State University's Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes; Pagan Kennedy, teacher, writer, journalist, and zine pioneer; Jay Ogilvy, co-founder of Global Business Network, and author of Many Dimensional Man: Decentralizing Self, Society and the Sacred; Living Without a Goal; and Creating Better Futures; and Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction, and author of Almost Human: Making Robots Think; plus many others.

Writing the Future is sponsored by The Creative Nonfiction Foundation and Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, and The Writer’s Center.

8:00 to 9:00 AM Registration

9:00 to 10:30 AM


Advances in science and technology have changed society almost overnight. Writers and reporters will document that change, as they have done in the past. But to do their job, writers will need to understand and to a certain extent foresee—or predict—the future. Two leading philosophers and writers, Dan Sarewitz and Jay Ogilvy, will present the future in both corresponding and conflicting ways.

Everything You Know About the Future is Wrong.

Beyond Optimism/Beyond Pessimism: Plotting the Future.
"It's time for a new stance toward the future," says Jay Ogilvy, “one that is fundamentally pluralistic or scenaric; we must learn how to hold in mind at once both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. I will share a little tradecraft from the discipline of scenario planning. HOW do you frame scenarios, whether optimistic OR pessimistic?" For pessimistic scenarios, says Ogilvy, “You just take reality as we know it and kick the hell out of it.” Optimistic scenarios are more challenging: “You have to dream a little, and solve problems no one has ever solved, to create positive visions that don't get dismissed as 'utopian'."

Sarewitz, Ogilvy

10:45 AM to 12:15 PM

Lee Gutkind will join Ogilvy and Sarewitz for discussion and debate and then open up the program to a panel of writers and editors for questions and discussion

Kennedy, Beasley, Nash, Sallay, Courteau

LUNCH: 12:15 to 1:30 PM

1:30 to 2:15 PM


Nick Bilton will explore the effects our bit-sized culture is having on our work, as well as the new narrative that is being formed at unabridged speeds around us. He will be joined by Richard Nash, former editor-in-chief, Soft Skull Press, founder of Cursor, a new writing and publishing community linked through social media.


2:15 to 3:00 PM


What will the media of the future be, and what kinds of writing will they demand? Editors, writers, and publishing techs talk about skills needed to write for and within emerging technology venues.

Bilton, Nash, Sallay, Ginna

3:15 to 4:00 PM


Writers and editors discuss shifting ethical standards in “objective” reporting, the acceptance of subjectivity, and the messiness of “truth” vs. “fact” when inserting yourself into your writing.

Ginna, Kleinman, Courteau, Fletcher


From USA Today to Twitter, the world is moving toward faster and shorter writing. Writers, editors, publishers, and bloggers discuss the ways to maximize efficiency without sacrificing quality.

Kennedy, Forche, Bilton


What will happen to the long essay in the hands of the NOW generation? Writers and editors discuss the future of the long essay, promising publishing venues, and their ideas about how to engage readership in the long essay for the future.

Forche, Beasley, Gutkind, Shroder

4:15 to 5:00 PM


Specialization in writing, just as in medicine or law, helps focus writers and allows them to build an identifiable “brand.” Writers who have developed professional specialties explain how they built their practices and offer tips for writers seeking a niche.

Kleinman, Kennedy


Creative Nonfiction has long been the place to go for “true stories, well told.” Now, after 15 years as the leading nonfiction journal in the nation, it’s getting a new look. Following WRITING THE FUTURE there will be a launch party for Creative Nonfiction Magazine! Stay and join Creative Nonfiction and The Writer's Center for this FREE evening event featuring readings by today's best nonfiction writers, free copies of the new magazine, free food and drink, and a chance to talk with Creative Nonfiction's editors.

About The Creative Nonfiction Foundation: The Creative Nonfiction Foundation pursues educational and publishing initiatives in the genre of literary nonfiction. Its objectives are to provide a venue, the journal Creative Nonfiction, for high quality nonfiction prose (memoir, literary journalism, personal essay); to serve as the singular strongest voice of the genre, defining the ethics and parameters of the field; and to broaden the genre's impact in the literary arena by providing an array of educational services and publishing activities.

About the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University: The Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes is an intellectual network aimed at enhancing the contribution of science and technology to society's pursuit of equality, justice, freedom, and overall quality of life. The Consortium creates knowledge and methods, cultivates public discourse, and fosters policies to help decision makers and institutions grapple with the immense power and importance of science and technology as society charts a course for the future.

About The Writer’s Center: The Writer’s Center cultivates the creation, publication, presentation, and dissemination of literary work. We are an independent literary organization with a global reach, rooted in a dynamic community of writers. As one of the premier centers of our kind in the country, we believe the craft of writing is open to people of all backgrounds and ages. Writing is interdisciplinary and unique among the arts for its ability to touch on all aspects of the human experience. It enriches our lives and opens doors to knowledge and understanding.

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