Jim Lynch, best-selling Olympia-based author of such books as “Against the Wind” and “The Highest Tide,” will share his insights as the featured speaker and in a workshop at the Write in the Harbor Conference sponsored by Tacoma Community College in Gig Harbor Nov. 4 and 5.
“I am drawn to speak to big groups of writers,” Lynch said. “There is so much I can share that I wish I had been told. I’m hoping to impart both optimism and realism about the publishing world.”
Lynch knew from the time he was a teenager that he wanted to write novels. He worked as a journalist to earn a living, but publishing fiction was his true goal.
“The odds are long and daunting,” he said. “It can feel hopeless, but all it takes to make it happen is finding two people—an agent and a publisher—who believe in you.”
He also said that luck plays a big role, noting that some great writing goes unrecognized and some bad writing winds up on best-seller lists.
Lynch grew up on Mercer Island and graduated with degrees in English and communications from the University of Washington. He worked as a journalist in Petersburg, Alaska, and then for columnist Jack Anderson in Washington, D.C. He moved back West to write for The Spokesman-Review,The Seattle TimesandThe Oregonian.
Lynch said it was “not an awkward transition” to leave journalism and move to writing fiction full time. His first novel, “The Highest Tide,” was published in 2005 and won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.
Most novelists write two to six books before one is published, Lynch said, and he is no exception. His first two “live in my basement. They are like training wheels. I remember the early drafts, how excited I was by them. They are flawed but wonderful,” he said.
Lynch lives with his wife in Olympia, and all of his books are set in Western Washington. “I am dazzled by the geography and beauty of Puget Sound,” he said. “It can be hard to see it as exotic if you grew up here, but I find it fascinating that the massive Seattle boating community heads north to the San Juan Islands. There is magic and mystery in the South Sound.”
He describes himself as a “binge researcher and a binge writer.” He works on one idea at a time, throwing himself into the research. His research is a “period of feeding the brain,” when he reads extensively about the topic, both fiction and nonfiction, and explores style as well. “The writing process is a slow build, then I get a draft and it snowballs.” He’s exhausted by the end, and then gets excited with his next idea.
His advice for writers: “When it comes to finding the time to actually do the work, find the rhythm that works for you.”
This is the second year for the Write in the Harbor conference. Registration is limited to 75. All sessions will be open, so registrants can decide on the day of the conference which ones they want to attend. There are three tracks: the business of writing, general writing and genre-specific writing. Some workshops are hands-on, and agents will be available.
For more information, go to continuingedtacoma.com/writeintheharbor2016.