On Oct. 26, the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading will bring dozens of writers together with thousands of readers.
The next day, the Poynter Institute will offer a seminar taught by seven notable writers and aimed at those who want to become writers, or better writers, themselves.
Roy Peter Clark, one of the seminar panelists and senior scholar at the media institute (which owns the Tampa Bay Times), says Write Your Heart Out Tampa Bay is aimed at "a wide variety of aspiring writers, from those who do write for a living and want to get better to people from all professions and walks of life who believe they have a story to tell."
Poynter has presented Write Your Heart Out events in Seattle and Washington, D.C., and participants have included a woman who was an exorcist, an emergency room doctor and a "grandmother who was ready to tell the grandchildren about her youthful adventures," as well as professional writers, Clark says.
Write Your Heart Out Tampa Bay, an all-day seminar at the Straz Center in Tampa, will offer participants a chance to learn from and interact with Times editor and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kelley Benham, former Times writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom French, Times Real Florida columnist Jeff Klinkenberg, National Book Award finalist and novelist Jayne Anne Phillips, Edgar Award-winning novelist Lori Roy, and Pulitzer-winning Times columnist Dan Ruth.
And, of course, Clark, whose new book, How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times, was published in August. Clark's 2006 book, Writing Tools: 50 Strategies for Every Writer, is now in its 10th printing, with more than 100,000 copies in print.
The new one is Clark's fourth book of advice for writers to be published by Little, Brown, after The Glamour of Grammar and Help! for Writers. He says How to Write Short was "the most fun I've ever had writing a book."
Much of that joy came from focusing on "how much great short writing exists, from biblical Proverbs to Twitter," and finding the links between the best contemporary short writing and the earliest written forms of language and literature.
The book examines everything from advertising to wisecracks, tombstones to text messages. One chapter samples the anthology Hint Fiction, stories of 25 words or less, including one called Peanut Butter: "He was allergic. She pretended not to know."
Clark wrote an opinion column related to How to Write Short, "The Short Sentence as Gospel Truth," that was published in the New York Times on Sept. 7. It became for a time the most emailed article on the newspaper's website — "an amazing experience," Clark says, and one that suggests there's plenty of passion out there for effective writing.
Clark already is working on a fifth book, tentatively titled Undressing Gatsby: What Writers Can Learn From Re-reading the Classics.
While he was a college professor in the 1970s, Clark says, a writing student told him about another professor who "talked about writing as if he were keeping the secrets to himself.
"That stuck with me. I decided that if I ever learned the secrets, I'd share them as widely as possible."