A Note About My Good Friend Earl

Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

There's a joke by Jay Leno that goes something like:

Go through your phone book, call people and ask themto drive you to the airport. The ones who will drive you are your true friends.

And
there's another saying, in publishing: Only work with authors who you
wouldn't mind being stranded with in an airport for 8 hours.

In 2003, at my first year speaking at the Midwest Writers Workshop,
I spent a lot of time in an airport with Earl Conn, one of the founders of the
organization.

My airport memory is my fondest memory of him, when we traveled together to Indianapolis, about an hour's drive, to pick up the famous George
Plimpton, the MWW keynote speaker. Plimpton's flight was late, so
Earl and I ended up chatting in the airport for a couple hours until our
VIP arrived. (Read a personal essay I wrote on the experience of meeting Plimpton here.) Earl bought me a pretzel, talked about his years of
teaching and writing and Ball State, and he was also the only person at
MWW who knew the exact location (and claim to fame) of my hometown of
Oakland City, Ind. (That's because he wrote a popular travel column
about Indiana.)

I got news this week that Earl passed away. It's
a great loss for the Midwest Writers Workshop, and he'll be greatly
missed. One of our last conversations was about whether some of his
essays and book ideas should be developed further and taken to
publishers, or whether he should look at independent options. He was a
devoted and energetic writer to the end, and I'll miss his wise and
insightful presence at MWW.

My thanks to Judy Joslin for sending me the above photo of me & Earl at the most recent MWW.

For more that I've written on MWW in general:

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is chasing trends in writing and publishing.

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Author Dawn Secord shares her journey toward self-publishing a picture book featuring her Irish Setter named Bling.

Poetic Forms

Crown of Sonnets: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the crown of sonnets, a form that brings together seven sonnets in a special way.

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (and as a Person)

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (And as a Person)

Reflective writing—or journaling—is a helpful practice in helping understand ourselves, and by extensions, the stories we intend to write. Author Jeanne Baker Guy offers 25 ways reflective writing can help you grow as a writer (and as a person).

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your character know they're being followed.

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Author Amanda Jayatissa discusses the fun of writing "deliciously mean" characters in her psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl.

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

A memoir is an open window into another's life—and although the truth is of paramount importance, so too is grabbing hold of its reader. Writer Tasha Keeble offers 3 tips for writing a memoir everyone will want to read.

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Bestselling and Giller Prize-shortlisted author Zoe Whittal discusses the complexity of big life decisions in her new novel, The Spectacular.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 582

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a transition poem.