I attended all three days of Potlatch 20 last weekend, and I had a blast.

The high point is a chance to hang out with a large room full of very smart people. The readings were great, including Nebula nominees Vylar Kaftan and Rachel Swirsky, and I got to put faces to many names that come up often in the kinds of discussions I have. The single-track format encouraged people to cluster together, with a larger group in the main room, and a smaller group in the conference suite. This conference seems to be a local nodal point for Clarion/Clarion West graduates (the conference helps raise funds for Clarion West), though Viable Paradise and Taos also made strong showings.

The writing workshop was also fantastic. My group was led by the wonderful Erin Cashier. I got solid feedback on a story that had already been critted a few times, and am already putting it into practice. The others in the group had great stories too that were a joy to read.

My personal highlight was the session with Alan Rinzler, who I confess I wasn’t familiar with his work before, though he’s edited Ray Bradbury to Shirley Maclane and many points in between. It was fascinating to hear a professional speaking so positively about the self-publishing movement. Plenty to think about.

I must also admit getting a kick out of meeting Valerie Frankel, the author of the unauthorized parody “Henry Potty” series (and expert in all things mythological).

There were no significant negatives, though if pressed I might say that Sunday was a bit navel-gazey. The first morning session was about the future of Potlatch, and the afternoon was an anniversary party and reminiscing about past Potlatches.

This conference has been going on for 20 years now, and many of the people that made it happen are still around. It’s a tight-knit group, and people were going out of their way to welcome in new faces.

I’d go again, especially for even-numbered ones in the Bay Area OR a suitable opportunity to take the family along with to points farther north.