Written by Fund for the Arts Impact Coordinator Christa Iwu

Leading into this weekend’s FREE Writer’s Block Festival, Louisville Literary Arts Director of Communications and local writer Amy Miller downloaded on their new brick space in Portland, the unique story of Writer’s Block, and reading in the rain.

Q: What is your vision for this new space in the former Tim Faulkner Gallery?

A: For this little corner… this is where our workshops and writer meet-ups will be held. We envision using both this space and the environs, especially the coffee shop [McQuixote]. Writers can come here, spread out, and know this is a place where they can get honest but supportive feedback on their work and learn new things about writing and publishing.

Q: Are a lot of workshop participants professional or pre-professional?

A: Our workshop participants are usually pre-professional, or emerging, writers. Some have published, others are working steadily, and some are new to writing. We also tend to attract people who maybe have toyed with the idea of an MFA program but are not sure, or maybe it’s just not within their financial reach.

So definitely anyone who is curious. People who come to our events want community. They want to be around people who understand their struggles and also get excited about the same things.

Q: What might surprise someone about The Writer’s Block Festival?

A: There’s so much going on! I’ve already had someone complain that they wish they could take two workshops that are happening at the same time and I wrote back, Yes, but isn’t it exciting to have too many choices? We have more vendors than we’ve ever had before. 27— last year was 20 or 23. This year we are an official National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Write In space!  We’ve set aside the cafe space in the College Street Building on campus for them to write from 10–2pm. And of course we’ll have panels and speakers.

Q: How long have you been with LLA and Writer’s Block?

A: The short answer is 2 years. The longer answer is… longer. I started volunteering accidentally with the organization. I was a freelance writer for the now-defunct Louisville Paper. My first assignment was to gauge the literary scene in Louisville. I interviewed one of the organizers of the first Writer’s Block Festival—in 2011—and was so taken with it that I asked to volunteer.

  • My first year I worked the registration table
  • The next year I put together the program and began soliciting vendors and advertisers
  • I joined the board in 2014
  • My position was created in 2016, I rotated off the board, and was hired as the first employee!

Q: What’s your relationship with literature?

A: I’ve been an avid reader since I was 5 years old. My mother really pushed me to read. I remember her giving me the Newbery Award list around age 7. She’d take me to the library and I’d get as many as she would let me. I also loved to buy books at the school book sales. I still have the original copies of my favorite Newbery winners, which I made my kids read even though they smell a bit musty—the books, not the kids!

In college I was a lit major. In my twenties I worked at Hawley Cooke Booksellers while I earned my MA in English. I wanted to teach college literature and did teach college writing as an adjunct at UofL and JCTC for seven years, but then I turned to writing my own work. I took my first nonfiction class at the Bethesda Writing Center when my husband and I lived in DC. I loved it. It was thrilling to get focused feedback on my work from a group of talented writers. After we moved back to Louisville before enrolling in the Spalding MFA program, I published my first essay. I’ve been calling myself a writer ever since.

Q: What’s your favorite place to read or write?

A: I like all coffee shops. That was definitely my MO as I began to write and when I was in college. I could not study in silence. I think as I’ve gotten older and because my kids are so noisy and occupy so much space, that a day like today when it’s raining, and my dogs are sleeping really close to each other (which they never do), and it’s quiet—that’s when I can really focus and I like to read.

Writer’s Block Festival

  • Saturday, November 10
  • 812 S 2nd St, Spalding University College St. Campus

ALL EVENTS ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND FREE OF CHARGE EXCEPT WHERE INDICATED

REGISTRATION 

  • 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Lobby

PRINT FAIR

  • 9:00 AM-4:00 PM, Ballroom, Third Floor

WRITER’S BLOCK CONVERSATION & LIVE TAPING OF 5 THINGS PODCAST      

NaNoWriMo Come Write In!

  • 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, The Café, Second Floor

WORKSHOPS ($paid)

PANELS 

READINGS

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

  • 5:00, Ballroom Room, Third Floor
  • Maggie Smith

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