Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Southern author Clyde Edgerton delivers the keynote address on the opening night of the North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference on Friday, Nov. 15 at the Wrightsville Beach Holiday Inn Resort.
Mingling in the hallways of the Wrightsville Beach Holiday Inn Resort on Friday, Nov. 15, was the largest collection of writers in attendance at one of North Carolina Writers’ Network fall conferences since 2010.
From poets to creative nonfiction writers and everything in between, they all funneled to the hotel’s ballroom Thursday evening to hear Wilmington resident and renowned Southern author Clyde Edgerton’s keynote address.
“Writing puts us in a place where we can be a bridge, where we can entertain, where we can be a part of something that is not factual and that is to be celebrated,” Edgerton said.
As the kickoff event for the weekend-long conference, Edgerton, who is also a creative writing professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, shared insights into how he got his start writing fiction. Instead of beginning with an elaborate idea, he said his primary inspiration came from his family and his childhood.
“I never dreamed that the people in my life could be one-third of my sources,” he said. “I tell students, you put a wall up and you put all your real people over here and the fictional people over there, and you let them reach through and pull characteristics.”
While many of the characters in his stories are based on people or experiences in his life, Edgerton said that mingling of real and fiction is important when writing a work of fiction.
“If you are writing about your mom, let her kill somebody in the second chapter, she will never believe it is her,” he said.
The women in Edgerton’s life played a large role in shaping his fiction but his most recent book is aimed at dads, a comical collection of advice for new fathers entitled, “Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers.”
“Having thought about why I ended up writing a book about fathers, I think about my wife and the influence of women in my life, and the fact that so much of what I have spent my fictional writing time on has been from either the point of view of a woman or about a woman,” Edgerton said. “In my community, I grew up with 23 aunts and uncles. … A conversation among the men in my family on a Sunday afternoon would go something like, ‘Well, looks like it might rain.’”
Following the address, North Carolina Writers’ Network communications director Charles Fiore said Edgerton’s words of advice were a perfect way to kick off the conference weekend.
“There seems to be a really good energy here this weekend,” Fiore said. “As writers this is a great weekend for us to recharge and get back to work … and I think people are just excited about being face to face with other writers.”