April 14th, 2023

The Terroir Creative Writing Festival is back

An illustration of a stack of books with a pair of reading glasses on top of it.  A book with a purple lily on top lies open in front of it.

Being a writer is a mostly solitary activity, doubly so when you live in a rural county (or there’s a pandemic brewing). But living the writing life—that’s something that doesn’t have to be done in isolation.

That’s just one reason I am so excited that Yamhill County’s one-day literary event, the Terroir Creative Writing Festival, is coming back on Saturday, April 29. Now in its 11th incarnation, the full day of keynote talks, workshops, sessions on creativity, and a panel discussion welcomes writers of all ages looking to expand their tribe and jump-start their creativity and will take place at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, a change of venue for the festival. 

It’s been three years since the organizers were able to hold the event, which brings together writers, our hometown bookseller, readers, speakers, and literary professionals for a full-day exploration of the writing craft. 

Terroir, a program of the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County, started in 2010, when a group of writers including poet Barbara Drake set out to create a place where writers could connect with each other. That first festival featured keynote speaker Ursula K. LeGuin, and subsequent events have welcomed Chelsea Cain, Rene Denfeld, Kim Stafford, Jean Auel, Molly Gloss, Steve Duin, and more. 

One of the Terroir’s goals has always been to meet attendees at whatever stage of the writing life they find themselves in. So while we do have a publishing panel for people who are ready to get out into the world, this year’s programming also includes some creativity-focused workshops like Katie Kulla and Rebecca Minifie’s session on zines as a creative process or Ellen Summerfield’s workshop on what makes a great poem. 

This year’s event promises to offer a lot of opportunities for what we writers call cross-pollination—or learning from people who aren’t necessarily writing the same type of things that you are. So a young adult fiction writer who comes to hear author Melissa Hart speak about writing more compassionately about young characters might take away just as much from author Liz Prato’s workshop on research for nonfiction essays. Or a great reader of nonfiction might enjoy meeting keynote speaker Leah Sottile, author of works on extremism in the West like When The Moon Turns to Blood but then discover that they also love the works of local author Joe Wilkins, whose novels are imbued with a sense of place (and who is speaking on just that).

Sometimes, the magic happens between the sessions, when you realize all of the writing that’s happening in Yamhill County because the writers have come out of the woodwork for the event.

In the end, that’s what it’s all about—creating the literary community that allows writing lives to grow and flourish. And if you can feel a little more connected, and a lot more inspired—well, that’s reason enough to leave your desk for the day.

Illustration of writer, Emily Grosvenor

Emily Grosvenor is the author of Find Yourself at Home: A Conscious Approach to Shaping Your Space and Your Life