Thursday, August 30, 2018

My speech from Quills

League of Utah Writers, Quills Conference 2018
Incoming President's speech (by me - Johnny Worthen)
Published by request.

So… here we are.
We pushed it off for a year, but here we are. Again.
Yeah. Hi.
I’m Johnny Worthen and I am your leader. I am the new president. Throw me a parade!
Before I bask in the glory and reverence I so richly deserve, let me say that if I have seen farther it is because I stand atop the pile of my enemies mouldering corpses.
Really though. I take over this venerable and noble institution at a time when its course is set and right. My job is just not to sink it. My job is maintenance. For this gift I’d like to give thanks to our new past-president, my friend and inspiration, Jared Quan!
Give it up for Jared!
Also give it up for the fantastic people behind this our best conference ever. The planning committee, board and volunteers.
And of course our awesome guests.
This fantastic conference is a testament to everyone’s hard work and dedication. We are a non-profit organization. We are run by volunteers, talented, energetic, dedicated volunteers. Or as I like to call them my friends.
To me this is what the League of Utah Writers has always been about. 
It’s about friends. It’s about community. It’s about being a part of something bigger than ourselves and it’s about giving back. I have long believed that the only way to achieve one’s dreams is to help others achieve theirs. It is not a burden but a privilege to do so. There are prizes for participation. Tonight I stand before you as a glowing example of the truth of that statement.
Thanks to the League of Utah Writers, my dreams have been, are being, and will be fulfilled.
That’s what community does.
All around me are my friends—a community of artists who share the joys and depressions, the triumphs and the trophies, who understand  truth of a phrase that comes to you as fall asleep. The mighty power of the oxford comma.
We come together because, unlike the propaganda of division thrown daily in our faces, we recognize that there is more—much more—that unites us than divides us. That is community. That is the League of Utah Writers.

We are a varied group of poets, genre-ists, memoir-ists, essayists, novelists— masochists all. We unite because we can, because we must. We are the only ones who understand us.
We are magicians in the true sense of the word, spells of words translated across time and space. Thought, intent, knowledge and emotion, we play in the psyche, meld minds, speak beyond the grave. So let it be written. We move in that special kind of telepathy Stephen King talked about. Every letter, syllable, word and phrase, paragraph chapter, tome and catalog changes the universe. Changes the universe. I feel sorry for the people who don’t do what we do. So mote it be! So say we all!
Together we fight rejection and editors. Subjective fickleness and fad. It is crazy to do this. 
We are all insane, but what good company we keep!
Jared said something that has resonated with me for years. It’s not his quote, but we’re writers. We steal outright and conceal our sources. Anyway he said, “if you want to go fast, go alone. I you want to go far, go together.” Here we are!
Without this group, all of you, this institution, this energy, this support and love, I would have long since given up on this, my dream, my happiest endeavor, my writing.
I am honored to have earned the trust of the board and the league. I thank you for this chance.
I should warn you though that I will fuck up. I will make mistakes. I press the limits. I will. I’m good at that. Lots of practice. But if I fall, I know I shall not fall far. For I have the greatest net of friends in the world to catch me and steer me right. From neophytes newly initiated, to chapter presidents, board members, and executives, and the new president elect John Olsen, who if things get too bad will have me assassinated and take over.
Give it up!
This is Quills. This is by far the most ambitious conference the league has ever held. So far. We have five or six major event a year for all types and levels of writer. Quills is the crowning moment, the one made for advanced seekers. We are intimate and professional. Which is good because I often say that all writers are like prostitutes just looking for a better pimp, the analogy fits.
This year’s theme was Read Write and Repeat. It wasn’t used much because the names Quills was so new and cool we concentrated on it. But the idea was sound. Read Write Repeat. Stay hooked on books. We need more users out there. The first one’s free, after that… yeah, well there are libraries. I guess they’re all kind of free. Literacy is intelligence and after seeing what the opposite of intelligence can do, I big fan of smart. Read, write, repeat. Be artists. Be smart artists.
Anne Hillerman
Wrapping up and looking forward I’d like to announce the theme for the next year and next Quills. “Live in Letters.” This is a continuation of the theme of literacy and the life writing.
I’d like to announce also now our first special guest for Quills 2019. The wonderful, and talented, all-around cool, best-selling author of American Mystery Anne Hillerman. Anne shall hang out with us next time.
Anne Hillerman! I am living the dream!
That’s all I got— I’m humbled and excited. I’m happy. I’m among friends.
Live in Letters everyone, they are magick!
I thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful speech, Johnny. I have no doubt you'll do well in your new role.