The Conversations & Connections 2011 writer’s conference last Saturday, while a bit elitist, was a good experience. I came away with my brain full and with new friends.
Would I go back? Yes. The money made it worth it, but I would get a motel room. The drive from Richmond was a bear.
Will I ever be a serious literary writer? Probably not, but I would send short stories in just to see what happened.
I have to admit, when pitching my zombie story I got a kick at the look of horror that crossed one of the literary magazine editor’s face. And I give props to the other editor who scanned the first two pages and moved on to the third page before pulling herself out because she was only suppose to read the first two pages. She regretfully informed me that her publication had no place for zombies but she loved my character and voice.
I learned that social media (Twitter & Facebook) is as successful as the person is comfortable with it. Most of the data seems to be anecdotal at this time, but it is a vehicle for getting a network in place. Like anything it takes time and effort to work it. These are simply tools to help.
Another session I enjoyed was what editors liked and disliked. Top pet peeves? KNOW YOUR MARKET!!!!! If you aren’t familiar with what the magazine publishes, get familiar with it. Don’t waste your time or the time of the editor sending them material that won’t fit their market. Second, understand their submission guidelines. Pay attention to word count, formatting, etc. It will make a difference. The rest? Every editor illustrated how subjective taste was. But they were all after one thing – a well written, compelling story.
The last highlight was Steven Almond. Going into his keynote address, I’ll be honest, I had no expectations and might have missed him for lunch. I’m so glad I didn’t. What a wonderful, honest, irreverent, foul-mouthed individual. If I were to have him as an instructor, I would spent have my time cursing his very existence then thanking him for teaching me how to write honestly. I’m pretty sure he would have constantly been calling me a prude and telling me how repressed I was. I would have been telling himTMI could be a crime.
The theme through out his keynote was about ‘setting the bar a little lower.’ That wasn’t to imply your personal standards should be lowered, it was about setting aside your preconceived notions of what ‘GOOD’ writing is and JUST F$%#$KING WRITE! Let the words happen. The story you are trying to tell will come.
Isn’t that really the lesson of life? When we try to force anything I find that we get stuck. When we are relaxed, not worried about the end result, but concentrating on the journey, every thing will be resolved, revealed, and, finally, completed or concluded. How amazingly freeing is that?
The funny thing is that this truth is a truth as old as time. We tied ourselves in knots about ours beliefs, our talents, and our work. We simply need to work on being satisfied with ourselves than coveting the successes of others.
Be genuinely happy for them, but do not covet what they have. It will destroy your soul. It will destroy your drive your drive to create in any capacity. DON’T DO IT!
Exercise the ability to live in the now. The future will take care of it self based on the decisions you make today. Envy, self doubt, and avarice are all killers of creativity. There will always be someone better and some worse than you. It is up to you to be the best YOU can be.
If you invest in your self, the way you invest in the negativity. The returns are guaranteed to be better.