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We're just a couple of months away from one of the Pacific Northwest's warmest and most welcoming events for writers: the Chuckanut Writers Conference, scheduled this year for June 22-23. At eight years old, Chuckanut has more than hit its stride, and the two days of the conference are packed with speakers, classes, and the chance to be inspired and put pen to paper. (Or pick your writing instrument, we're not trying to tie you down.)

What we love about Chuckanut — aside from the fact that it's held in Bellingham, that gorgeous place just north of Seattle that's both an easy drive and a healthy distance from the buzz of the city — is its focus on connecting writers at all stages of their careers. Nothing could demonstrate the commitment to fostering talent at all stages, and fostering local talent, better than this year's keynote speakers: Claudia Castro Luna, Seattle's first Civic Poet and now Washington Poet Laureate, and Natalie Goldberg, renowned writing teacher and author of the beloved Writing Down the Bones.

The full faculty list is amazing: Paula Blecker, Jonathan Evison, Daemond Arrindell, to name a very few. This is going to be a great year for Chuckanut, and we hear registrations are already at a record high. So sign up now — until May 22, you can register for a discounted earlybird rate, just $245.

Photo: Andreea Chidu.

Five reasons to attend a writing conference

1. Writing conferences remind us we are not alone.
"That writing is a solitary act is a myth. It is true that we are more than likely physically alone at our desk when we compose our novels or put down on paper a memory, but writing is far from a solo performance. Writing is a communal act. We write with the earth under our feet, the sound of the wind, the chatter of fellow humans at a café. As we hunker down to finish a chapter in Brooklyn, someone else is scribbling a draft of a poem in Hanoi. All of us writers, novice or published, go through the same fears and euphoria, and we feel the same imperative to write down and share our human experience. We often forget this profound commonality. Gatherings like the Chuckanut Writers Conference remind us of this." — Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones

2. Writing conferences give us the courage to write.
"I would not have had the courage to write my adventure memoir if it were not for attending my first writer's conference. Up until then, I approached writing as a side identity, doubtful about simply saying "I'm a writer" when asked about my current profession. After the conference that hidden, aspiring writer was now confidently front and center. This was an important shift for me. Then the next writer's conference I attended not only cemented my identity as a good writer but empowered me to be bold and inventive in my writing style." — Kate Troll, author of The Great Unconformity: Reflections on Hope in an Imperiled World

3. Writing conferences create lasting connections among writers and agents.
"It was as a student at a writing conference that my partner met his literary agent of the past twenty years and that I first interacted with many of the writers whose work I continue to admire. To become part of an extended literary community at a writing conference is a great gift — a respite from isolation and an introduction to the professional sphere." — Charmaine Craig, author of Miss Burma

4. Writing conferences offer opportunities to learn from many teachers.
"When it comes to writing, there's always more to learn, there are days your energy and optimism flag, and there are times only another writer can truly understand what this work is all about. Writing conferences are places to find teachers, boosters, and kindred spirits. At every stage of my writing career, such gatherings have shaped me as a writer and broadened the community I rely on to continue to develop." — Iris Graville, author of Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman's Search for Balance

5. Writing conferences are inspiring.
"Whenever I attend a writers conference, I'm inspired by the generosity of all participants, whether they are presenters or audience members. A supportive community is vital to writers because we lead such solitary lives; some of the people I've met at conferences have become part of my writing community." — Janie Chang, author of Dragon Springs Road