Maui Writers Conference, Day 2

Okay, my thoughts were a bit premature yesterday, for today there seemed to be an amazing variety of people here, reaffirming my belief that everyone has something to say and can write if they want to. In fact, you could say I did a good 360, for one of the day’s speakers convinced me that I need to read more biographies, and as I moved from session to session I kept wondering what the person next to me had gone through and would write about one day. When you think about it, most biographies are about winners; a memoir is not something a loser would be inclined to immortalize on paper, right? And what better way to learn than from another’s person’s victories? Or mistakes.

There were some prolific, award-winning writers presenting here today, Gail Tsukiyama, Natalie Goldberg and screenwriter Wendy Wasserstein among them, and the flip side to their success is that they are all so human and ordinary when they are up front and personal with you. They are people you wouldn’t easily pick out from a crowd, yet their words have reached out and touched millions of people.

Every single one of them will talk about Ho‘omau: persistence and perseverance. Andy Andrews shared that his book, a featured book selection of ABC’s Good Morning America and on the New York Times Bestseller list for 17 weeks, was “officially, meaning on paper, turned down by 51 different publishers.” He went on to explain that one of his principles for success is this: “I will persist without exception.” He explained that the “without exception” part is where most people stop short, when they need to realize “the game is not over until you say it’s over. ‘without exception’ allows you to find a way where there seems there is no way. There is always a way.”

By far, Andrews, author of The Traveler’s Gift, was my favorite speaker today. He’s one of those rare people that hold you captivated when they speak: there’s no other noise or movement in the room other than their voice—even people who need to go to the bathroom sit still and hold it in. He’s a story-telling powerhouse of energy, with raw honest emotion flipping you back and forth between awe and humor, and throughout it all you are convinced he is telling you the absolute truth. He gave me this incredible gift: a picture of what I need to share the next time I get up in front of a room of people to speak. It feels so great to feel you are inspired by someone, isn’t it?

Tomorrow Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, Sports Night, The West Wing) is on the agenda. Can’t wait.