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The digi.lit Report

This last Saturday I was at digi.lit, San Francisco's first digital literary conference. My brain has been humming ever since.

I was there as a volunteer for this Litquake event, but also got to sit in on several panels during the first half of the day, and came away with so much inspiration and excitement. Sometimes publishing conferences have an air of despair about them: if we're all being honest with ourselves, very few are going to emerge from the conference published, and even those who do will quite likely be disappointed with the process anyway. digi.lit was not like that. But it also wasn't a "whoo-hoo, we're all gonna get rich off our writing!" kind of feeling either. There was no sense of evangelism about the event: the purpose was not to convince every attendee of the value of digital publishing. It was all very dialogue-based. The over-arching emotion I walked away with was possibility. There are just so many more ways to tell a story, have your story experienced, and get your stories out there than ever before, and even the possibilities are expanding. As Lisa Rutherford, of the super cool publishing group, Coliloquy, said during a panel entitled If it's Digital, Can It Be Literature: "We are at the tipping point of what is possible."

I heard all kinds of fascinating ideas about how technology and writing are intersecting:

  • Crowdsourced original (and GORGEOUS) cover art for some of the greatest works of fiction in the public domain by Recovering the Classics. For instance, this and this. (Seriously, take five minutes to browse and hide your credit card from yourself).
  • A legal novel told from several different points of view, but you can't scan backward to double check what you've read before, and you have to choose who is innocent. (Coliloquy)
  • Being able to subscribe to stories according to your favorite themes.
  • Getting feedback on each serialized chapter of your book. (JukePop)
  • Teen girls who are writing and sharing chapters with the likes of Margaret Atwood. Oh, how I would have so been all over this when I was a teen. (Wattpad)
  • Posting all your research on Pinterest as a way to grab reader's attention (this has totally intrigued me: I will be creating a Pinterest page for both my existing and work in progress novels post haste).

Which is to say, I was inspired. One of the things I've been trying to do is think wider about writing, about all the possibilities with writing. It's not my first instinct to do so: I like writing the way I write, it works for me, if anything it's gotten easier with repetition. But it's good to have your own expectations expanded. And thinking in possibility, rather than what's worked in the past, opens you up to all kinds of creativity. 

On my bus ride to the conference, I read a line from a Poets & Writers article that read:"Conflict is what brings about growth." And I was chewing on this idea in regard to my own challenges at the moment (primarily, needing to find work that is both meaningful and sustainable), and realizing that yes, this point in life could be about growth, if I seek that out. And there's still a lot of heated debate and conflict around digital publishing (every single author reading I go to seems to include one nervous person in the crowd asking about the future of books and bookstores). But maybe it's helpful to look at this as a time of growth as well. A time of possibility. 


  1. Some really useful slides here. I've been looking for something like this to help with a research piece I've been working on.
    training to be a life coach

    1. I think life coaching is fascinating! I hope your research is leading you to interesting things!


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