Chris Horne is the co-founder of the Crossroads Writers Conference in the “Heart of Georgia”, also known as Macon. Besides featuring our beloved Chris Baty as a keynote speaker at the conference, the fine folks at Crossroads will also be donating part of their proceeds to the Young Writers Program.
Crossroads engages in many inspiring community projects, including their Sidewalk Stories, which will replace gray sidewalks with ones adorned with poetry, lyrics, history, quotes and other literature. Chris loves writing, and values community even more; he shared his thoughts on both, and why it’s so important to teach young writers that you can make a living being creative (remember to flip the voice box to a Southern drawl):
Have you participated in NaNoWriMo before? Did you furiously type out a 50,000 word novel?
I’ve done it twice before, and my best outing was last year with a little more than 40,000 words. This year, I’m doing it and my wife is joining me. We’re going to push each other!
What inspires you about NaNoWriMo?
First, the sheer challenge of it. And thus far, the fact that I haven’t been equal to the task. Between the first time I tried it and now, I’ve learned that what makes NaNoWriMo special is that it makes me practice two things I’m terrible about doing otherwise: 1) writing daily and 2) delaying the editing process until I’ve written as much as possible. It’s also really helpful for learning how to just follow the story.
Were you a young writer? Tell us about your early masterpieces.
Though I didn’t know I could be a writer, I wrote often—more after a middle school teacher encouraged me. In second grade, I plagiarized “The Tiger” by William Blake because it was in a book we had with great illustrations.
In third grade, I was less picky with my sources of inspiration, doing a (very short) movie novelization for my then favorite horror film, House, starring William Katt of Great American Hero fame. So I went very quickly from William Blake to William Katt and I haven’t done much better since.
Why did Crossroads decide to donate some of its proceeds to the Young Writers Program?
When I was young, I never daydreamed about being a writer, and only until I was actually making a living as a journalist did I ever consider being a writer as a possibility. The other side of that is true, too. Plenty of kids (and adults) think they can get famous as a novelist or a screenwriter or a musician. “The Dream” is often oversold and it becomes a sort of ultimatum, like you either make it or you don’t.
The reality is that you can make a living being creative. So my philosophy now is that the sooner we can help young folks grasp that reality, the better qualified they’ll be to explore their options and, at the least, understand how valuable writing can be no matter what they end up doing.
How important is a community to succeed as a writer?
Crossroads has a lot in common with NaNoWriMo in that we are big believers in community. Writing can be such a lonely job, but when you’re connected to other writers, you’re open to more knowledge, more motivation, more fun. So everything that comes out of the Crossroads Writers Weekend is generally tied to the community of writers, whether that’s connecting to professionals or other attendees.
Why did Crossroads choose Chris Baty for the conference? Was it for the cachet brought by having a very tall person there?
Macon is blessed to have a bona fide member of the OLL team here, Heather Dudley. She started helping with Crossroads last year and when she said she thought Chris Baty was even a possibility, we jumped at the chance. We were aware he’d never had an official trip South and thought it’d be a great opportunity for regional Wrimos and the uninitiated alike to meet the man and participate in his inspirational message.
The Crossroads Writers Conference takes place from October 5-7, 2012 in Macon, Georgia. You’ll be sure to find a heart full of writers there.
Photo courtesy of Crossroads Writers Conference.