Friday, March 28, 2008

What I Think I Learned at Writer's Conference

By Christine Thackeray

Last week I went to the LDS Storymaker's Conference. It was so great to finally meet so many people I have gotten to know through ANWA and to learn from many authors who have had the opportunity to share their voice with a larger audience. I attended various workshops and participated in critique sessions, referred to as boot camp which were very helpful. I tried to use every second to my advantage, asking everyone about their projects and hob-nobbing with successful writers.

When I walked in my own front door at the end of the weekend in a daze I couldn't quite define my feelings, but after a few days of unwinding and warming up to my out-of-control laundry room, a few insights have filtered through my addled brain and dropped silently at my feet. You may not agree but this is what it seemed to me-

  1. There was a number of authors I met who had written one or two books some years ago and that was it. Either because their sales were not very good or they ran out of ideas, instead of building an audience, they just stagnated. I so don't want to do that.
  2. After listening to various writers talk about the creative process, I finally feel like I'm doing it right because what works for me IS right. I heard as many processes as people, almost. You had some writers who calendar or map out their stories and some who just wing it. Others who write the most poignant scenes first and then make them all fit together afterwards. That was freeing.
  3. The elements of a story are essential for it to be engaging. I need to do a better job at defining character, conflict, consequence and the one I think they left out, PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. There has to be a reason not to overcome the conflict that is as compelling as wanting to overcome whatever difficulty is presented, otherwise there is no dilemna- it's a no brainer.
  4. The three writers I met who have taken their careers nationally with large publishers each invested their time and efforts meeting agents and editors face to face at other writer's conferences. They also wrote on a regular basis and kept their production up. They looked at writing as a business and carefully guarded their time. Although I hope to always have a voice in the LDS market, I would like to step into the national venue and need to invest my efforts there if I hope to make that leap.
  5. Getting your book in print is only half the story. Marketing your book is essential for a successful release and for your publisher to want to invest in your next project. You have to be proactive and work hard to find as many readers as possible any creative way you can.

I guess the reality is that anything of real value we choose to pursue takes a lot of effort if we hope to do it well- BUMMER! Publishing on a regular basis and production writing is just a lot of hard work.

5 comments:

  1. How fun for you to be able to attend that conference. I am a wee bit envious! I completely agree with your awareness that what works for you is right! Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  2. You are so right about it being hard work. Most of us take to the creative end of writing and ignore the hard side of writing.

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  3. Christine--very insightful posting. Writing my first two books was a magical experience. Writing the next three was just like another job. Maybe not, I got paid a lot better for my day job. Yes. It's a lot of hard work. But what're you gonna do? You gotta write.

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  4. I love to attend or hear about writing seminars and conventions. When I listen to those pep talks, and get blueprints on how to write, I get excited, but then reality sets in. Who am I kidding? I've never felt driven to write. I'm only driven to 'have written'. (Unfortunately, the two absolutely must come in proper sequence.) Drafting, I've discoveed, can be hard work, especially when you have nothing to say. Editing is hard work because there are so many different ways to say that bit of nothing. Attracting an editor is hard because you can't know on which day she'll be in the mood for your kind of writing. Finding a publisher is either hard, or expensive (when it's self) and selling a book might be the hardest of all. If I'd known how time-consuming the whole project is, I'd have stayed with just dreaming. (Well, maybe that's what I'm doing.)

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  5. Hi I am new to your web site hope you don't mind but any way I've always wanted to go to a writer's conference - just to learn more about marketing. I just might do it next year... thanks for the information - Kristeen from "www.thegoughinn.typepad.com

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