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Write in the Harbor

Nov. 1-2, 2019 at the TCC Gig Harbor Campus


Write in the Harbor (WitH) is an annual event offered through Tacoma Community College’s Continuing Education department. WitH supports the literary arts by providing opportunities for writers to convene and learn the craft of writing and the business of getting it published.

The conference features a keynote and master class by a local author and workshops focused on the craft and business of writing. Authors Garth Stein, Jim Lynch, J.A. Jance, and Dave Boling have been featured at previous conferences. This is a popular event and we expect seats to sell out again this year!

For 2019, Write in the Harbor will feature local writer Erica Bauermeister.
WitH will be held Friday evening Nov. 1, and all day Saturday Nov. 2.

Friday night is our keynote address, and all conference attendees are welcome:

  • Keynote Event, 6:30pm - 9pm
  • Doors open at 6pm, light refreshments with beer and wine
  • Program begins at 7pm, welcome from Dr. Ivan Harrell, TCC President, and keynote address including Q&A with Erica Bauermeister
  • Erica Bauermeister will sign books beginning at 8pm
  • Doors close at 9pm




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What makes a great writer? We’ll be talking both philosophically and pragmatically about the process of growing into the writer you have always wanted to be. I look forward to meeting all of you!”

Erica Bauermeister, Author and 2019 WitH Master Class Instructor

photo of Erica Bauermeister2019 Keynote Speaker and Master Class Instructor: Erica Bauermeister

I was born in Pasadena, California in 1959, a time when that part of the country was both one of the loveliest and smoggiest places you could imagine. I remember the arching branches of the oak tree in our front yard, the center of the patio that formed a private entrance to our lives; I remember leaning over a water faucet to run water across my eyes after a day spent playing outside. It’s never too early to learn that there is always more than one side to life.

I have always wanted to write, but when I read Tillie Olsen’s I Stand Here Ironing in college, I finally knew what I wanted to write – books that took what many considered to be unimportant bits of life and gave them beauty, shone light upon their meaning. The only other thing I knew for certain back in college, however, was that I wasn’t grown up enough yet to write them.

So I moved to Seattle, got married, and got a PhD. at the University of Washington. Frustrated by the lack of women authors in the curriculum, I co-authored 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide with Holly Smith and Jesse Larsen and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14 with Holly Smith. In the process I read thousands of books, good and bad, which is probably one of the best educations a writer can have. I still wrote, but thankfully that material wasn’t published. I taught writing and literature. I had children.

Having children probably had the most dramatic effect upon how I write of anything in my life. As the care-taker of children, there was no time for plot lines that couldn’t be interrupted a million times in the course of creation. I learned to multi-task, and when the children’s demands were too many, we created something called the “mental hopper.” This is where all the suggestions went — “can we have ice cream tonight?” “can we take care of the school’s pet rat over the summer?” “can I have sex at 13?” The mental hopper was where things got sorted out, when I had time to think about them. What’s interesting about the mental hopper is that when something goes in there, I can usually figure out a way to make it happen (except sex at 13).

And that is how I write now. All those first details and amorphous ideas for a book, the voices of the characters, the fact that one of them loves scents and another one flips through the pages of used books looking for clues to the past owner’s life, all those ideas go in the mental hopper and slowly but surely they form connections with each other. Stories start to take shape. It’s a very organic process, and it suits me. So when people say being a mother is death for writers, I disagree. Yes, in a logistical sense, children can make writing difficult. In fact, I don’t think it is at all coincidental that my first novel was published after both my children were in college. But I think differently, I create the work I do, because I had children.

It’s been more than thirty years since I first read Tillie Olsen. My children are now grown. I’ve been married for more than three decades to the same man; I’ve lived in Italy; I’ve stood by friends as they faced death. In the process I grew up, a lot, and two months before my fiftieth birthday, my first novel was published.

I’ve been lucky – I’ve now written four novels. I’ve had bestsellers, and my work has been published in 25 different languages. I’ve gotten the chance to meet with readers and book clubs and listen to their stories. I’ve heard authors say that writing is torture, but for me, it is the one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. When I am writing, or talking with readers, the world is full of possibilities.

My newest novel, The Scent Keeper, is coming out in May of 2019. I’ll have a memoir, House Lessons, out in the spring of 2020. The mental hopper is full these days, and it is a wonderful playground to spend time in.

WitH Presenters