“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
John Steinbeck recorded his impression of Positano, Italy—a town perched on a vertical cliffside on the Amalfi Coast overlooking the sea. Could you imagine a more breathtaking location for a writers conference?
Just two weeks ago, I was one of thirty lucky attendees accepted to the 2014 Sirenland Writers Conference, held annually at Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano. Sirenland is truly a unique and unforgettable experience—the locale, the accommodations (5 star hotel perched on the cliffside with ocean views), the food (the hotel boasts a Michelin starred restaurant), but most importantly, the people. Working with Meg Wolitzer, who led my fiction workshop, was a dream come true. She’s so kind and brilliant and hugely talented. I’m still in awe that she read chapters of my novel and gave me feedback.
The instructors for the other two workshops were also fantastic—Andre Dubus, so warm and friendly, and Dani Shaprio, who founded the workshop along with Michael Maren, a filmmaker and also her husband, and Hannah Tinti, an award-winning writer and editor. In addition to the workshop portion, there were talks on publishing, readings, and writing exercises.
I read in front of actual people for the first time ever.
I was shaking in my boots (literally), but everyone was so supportive and complimentary. It was the perfect place to take a risk and try something new. I can see why writers return to this conference for a second time, or in one case this year, for their fourth time. Though the week flew by, and by the end I wished I could stay, if only for a few more days, I know I made lasting friendships and left with renewed confidence and inspiration to pursue this crazy thing called writing.