RWC 2018 Photo.png

Ridgefield Writers Conference Aims to Inspire Through Artistry and Craft

by  | Sep 1, 2018

Amid today’s publishing pressures and challenges, what are the writer’s best sources of inspiration, and how can they rekindle their imagination when inspiration wanes? The fall 2018 Ridgefield Writers Conference explores these and other tough questions through the author/editor relationship.

Now in its sixth year, the Ridgefield Writers Conference, on Fri., Sept. 21, has expanded its off-year, one-night open house at the Ridgefield Library from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. to become an interactive forum on the theme of Inspiration and Imagination. To explore the theme and this highly individual calling, the event comprises author readings, panel discussions, networking, and core author/editor seminar workshops.

At the heart of each Ridgefield conference, among the most instructive small venues for writers, is pedagogy. This year’s instructional focus takes the form of seminar workshops with seasoned authors and editors, with whom writers can share their fiction, nonfiction and hybrids for stimulating discussions to spark creativity and originality. Writers will have the opportunity to see, in real time, how authors and editors collaborate to solve such problems as beginnings and endings, character development, plot, prose, reader engagement, structure, style, theme, viewpoint , voice and—that ongoing challenge—revision.

The workshop emphases on craft and art will be explored through these workshops: Inspiring the Imagination for Nonfiction and Fiction for Young Readers, with acclaimed novelist and author Pete Nelson and HarperCollins senior editor Tamar Mays; Inspiring the Imagination for Nonfiction, with award-winning author Sonya Huber and Disney publications editor Colin Hosten; and Inspiring the Imagination for Short and Long Fiction, with novelist and award-winning short story writer Chris Belden and award-winning former Scholastic editor Adele Annesi.

In keeping with its theme, the conference features keynote speaker Rachel Basch, author of three novels, including The Listener, a finalist for the 2016 CLMP Firecracker Award. A MacDowell Colony Fellow and winner of the William Van Wert prize, Basch teaches in Fairfield University’s MFA Program and Wesleyan University’ Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

This year’s event also includes readings by guest authors and a moderated Q&A panel with Marilyn Allen (Allen O’Shea Literary Agency), authors, editors, and publishers. This year’s new guest panelist is Jim Childs, whose distinguished career encompasses publishing, editing and marketing with Globe Pequot Press, Rowman & Littlefield, Time, Inc., Books, Time-Warner, The Taunton Press, John Wiley & Sons, HarperBusiness, and Prentice-Hall. The guest conference publisher is Woodhall Press.

With today’s challenging publishing climate, writers must learn to cultivate inspiration and imagination, in no small part by using craft to rekindle their imagination when inspiration wanes. The late Ursula LeGuin, a master storyteller and teacher, said, “Once we’re keenly and clearly aware of these elements of out craft, we can use and practice them until—the point of all the practice—we don’t have to think about them consciously at all, because they have become skills.” The Ridgefield Writers Conference aims to advance the writer’s skill through the examples offered in the author/editor relationship.

The Ridgefield Writers Conference takes place Fri., Sept. 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Ridgefield Library. Conference registration is first-come, first-served, and registration is $25. For an application and information, email, visit the conference website at, or contact Word for Words at 203.894.1908. To make the most of the event, writers should bring their projects, plans and questions, including what they believe to be their biggest writing challenge.