By Ana Williams

On Thursday, February 14th, 2019, also known as Valentine’s Day, I had the privilege of attending a NYS Writers Institute event appropriately titled “Writing Love”. My initial thought when seeing the title for this event was, I guess I will be sitting through a discussion on how one “finds love”, the dos and don’ts in a relationship, etc. However, when the discussion began to develop into an alluring conversation, and more questions were being asked, my initial thought on the evenings scheduled authors were challenged. Two talented writers, Christopher Castellani and Lauren Wilkinson were featured and discussed their newly released works. Their books are titled “Leading Men” and “American Spy” respectively.

As both authors were introduced you could hear not only in the voice of the host the immense admiration for the authors and their works but, the admiration from those who reviewed the novels as well. I sat through this event held by the NYS Writers Institute and was grateful for the opportunity to observe two authors I had never heard of with a new found interest. The authors were free spirited, down to Earth and excited to hear the thoughts of everyone in the room on their recently released works. Though I didn’t have the opportunity to read each novel beforehand, I gathered that both novels are stories in which each protagonist was on a journey to find themselves.

What I found interesting about both authors was not only were their books released on the same day, but they both focused on incorporating historic figures within their texts in the role as the main characters. While the writers discussed their creative processes, and exactly how these texts came about, I was impressed by how engaged the audience was. Each author spoke in a way that let the audience feel as though they were old friends, and they were shared their gems of writing with everyone in that room. One thing I liked that Mr. Castellani touched on was how long it took to finally complete “Leading Men”. In sharing the timeline of his writing process, he showed many aspiring authors in the audience that things take time, especially when it comes to the writing and editing process. I had a great appreciation for how real both authors were in letting the audience know that it isn’t easy to create a piece of published work. The effort not only has to be something that one is proud to have known as their own, but it must be something that others will find worth reading.

Though both books didn’t seem to focus solely on love, I felt like the idea of love was shown in both in different ways. Both authors spoke about the amount of time and dedication they put into their books, and making sure everything was done just right. This type of dedication is what one puts into a relationship that they really care about, which is how I connected the title of the event to what I experienced. It isn’t necessarily writing about love that is important but, it is loving what you write that takes the prize.