• Perspectives

Japan Writers Conference reflects a changing world

The Japan News
These four books are among the many titles written by authors who are set to appear at the 2022 Japan Writers Conference on Oct. 15-16.

“How do you keep going when the world, the publishing landscape, and YOU have had major paradigm shifts since 2020?”

Suzanne Kamata, who wrote the novel “The Baseball Widow” and the poetry collection “Waiting,” will pose that question in a panel discussion that she will lead at the 16th annual Japan Writers Conference (JWC) this month.

Kamata writes in the event’s program that she and several other authors will discuss the “challenges they’ve had in the last two years, including launching new books during a pandemic … They also offer tips and techniques on how to keep your writing career rolling when it seems the world is constantly conspiring against you.”

The novel coronavirus pandemic seemed to conspire against the conference itself by forcing it to be held entirely online via Zoom for the past two years. This year, it will convene in person at the Shonan Campus of Tokai University in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Oct. 15-16.

As a longtime JWC participant, I look forward to being physically present again for some of the 27 sessions on this year’s schedule, which include lectures, workshops and readings. However, Zoom will still be an option for remote participation in about one-third of those sessions. Those who wish to participate in person should register by Oct. 8 via the link at the bottom of this story.

In person or online, the JWC is free for anyone with an interest in writing.

Topics will include fiction, poetry, memoir, screenwriting and the business of publishing.

Tokai University Associate Prof. Charles Kowalski, this year’s host and the author of “Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts,” will give a presentation on humorous writing, while Pushcart Prize-nominated poet Michael Frazier will lead a workshop on poetry that addresses death.

Sara Ellis and the writer known as Coffee Quills are two of this year’s speakers whose presentations will reflect some of the very latest developments in the writing world.

While it is well known that the internet has made indie publishing an increasingly viable alternative to traditional publishing, Coffee Quills will describe some even newer online publication styles for fiction writers, such as serializations and interactive writing.

Science fiction writer Ellis, whose 2019 JWC presentation opened a window to what she called the “maligned and misunderstood” world of fan fiction, will delve deeper into that world this year, with a talk on “Big Bang” writing challenges, “wherein writers are paired with artists in the creation of a longform fic” for both skill-building and fun.

However much the world changes, writers will always be in the business of creating whole new worlds. As novelist and literary translator Eli K.P. William puts it, “All fiction takes place in an imagined world, however much that world may or may not resemble our own.”

William’s talk on world-building will focus on science fiction, including his own Jubilee Cycle, a trilogy whose final volume, “A Diamond Dream,” will be published in November.

Organizer John Gribble said, “The Japan Writers Conference has been an opportunity for the English-language writing community to gather and share, face to face. We’re hoping to reestablish this ‘gathering of the tribe’ with this year’s event.”

The full program, and information on how to participate, can be found at http://japanwritersconference.org./?_sm_au