We writers can learn from everyone. Observation sluts all, we scavenge and steal from the world around us. For the few years, I’ve been watching other ink-stained wretches and trying to study what seems to work and what doesn’t.
For most, it all comes down to commitment.
It’s the strength to strap our butts in chairs even when we want to skip out into mudlucious spring days. It’s the understanding that for professionals, writing is more than putting words on paper; it’s a way of life.
I’ve decided to actively nourish and reinforce these truths.
Which brings me to today.
While you read this blog, I’ll be on my way back from the Novelists, Inc. conference in New York. Novelists, Inc is a small organization of writers who’ve published at least two novels; many members have published far more. I joined a little more than a year ago when I was feeling the need for mentors but didn’t know where to find them.
You see, once you’re no longer a beginner, you’re adrift in the same ocean as every other writer . . . except the superstars. It’s difficult to find people who even believe you need to be taken under their wing. It also becomes more challenging to know what questions to ask because eveyone is mouthing variations on a theme . . .
Answers abound, but there’s no generic prescription that yields the same results for everyone.
The more you learn, the less you know.
I feel like I’m more of a babe in the woods than I was upon first publication for years ago. There’s so more to learn, to explore.
Novelists, Inc is a place to do it — for me. While most members are romance writers, the experience they offer is a kind of informal school for those of us novelists who’ve gotten well onto the ladder but can’t yet see the next level.
I’ve got to tell you, I’m excited. For three full days and late nights, I’ll hang out with these people. I’ll listen and watch. There’s an astounding list (this one is partial) of editors and agents coming to this thing and I bet they’ll have plenty to say as well.
This is the first time in more than five years that I’m attending an event that has to do with writing where I’m NOT in promotion mode (though I am working on the elevator pitch just in case someone asks). This time, I’m focused on craft and on the life of a working writer.
My question for today is this:
What conference, workshop or class can you recommend that:
* took you to a glorious new level in your work (non writers, please comment here, too)
* inspired you
* kicked you in the butt
* gave you the courage to continue, change, explore, expand?
If you want to include urls, that’d be great too. I’ll try to respond on the road or when I get home.
Can’t wait to hear how the seminar was, Pari.
That glorious craft-centered class for me was Jude Greber’s “Eight Weeks to Stronger Fiction,” taught at Marin County’s Book Passage. Damn, that woman can teach. And inspire.
Anne Mini’s web site, known as “Author! Author!” is hugely helpful to me. It’s at annemini.com.
She does very detailed explanations of the nuts and bolts of the publishing and writing business. Check her CV; she’s more than qualified to teach.
Her sequence on developing different types of pitches (yes, more than one is needed) is brilliant.
See the topic roster in the right-hand margin. Anne and her readers have covered a very wide range of writerly concerns. I find her approach liberating.
I haven’t done a writing workshop since college, but I have to say that the first conference I ever attended, Murder in the Magic City, was the impetus for my career. Not only did I meet people who have become friends and huge influences in my life, I learned. About panels. About writers. About cliques. About signings. About networking. About genuineness and foolery. It was an amazing day.
I am so excited for you this week, Pari. Have a brilliant time. Come away refreshed and ready to glory in your talent. Because, as you may remember, one of those people I met at MMC was you. And you’ve been one of my mentors for a long, long time.xo
I must admit, I enjoyed browsing through Anne Mini’s site, so thanks, Tom.
Someday, someday I’ll go to writing workshop. But for now, I’ll be content with reading and selling.
That’s so funny that Louise mentioned Book Passage, because although I didn’t take Judy’s class, the conference as a whole really inspired me to finally finish The Tunnels. (www.bookpassage.com) And this year I was invited to serve on their faculty, so I really feel like in a way I’ve come full circle. The Novelists Inc conference sounds really interesting and different, I can’t wait to hear about it.
Hi all,Thank you for stopping by, especially since I didn’t have a chance to respond to ANYTHING yesterday — got back too late!
Louise,I’d love to go to that workshop. Wow. I just know Jude as a writer and person — and she excels at both. I bet she’s an incredible teacher.
Tom,Thanks for the url to Anne Mini’s website. I can’t wait to be able to spend some time there.
J.T.,I know exactly what you mean about conventions. MMC is very instructive — as are all of the ones I attend. I learn so much by just listening and watching.
Fran … Yep. I know what you mean. Thank you for reading and selling those books, too.
Thomas,What a beautiful story and commentary. It really IS all about the readers. Thank you for reminding us.
Michelle,Those full circle moments are incredible, aren’t they? I’ve only heard superb things about the Book Passage conference.
Thomas – last year I went to an appearance Mr. Bradbury does every year up in Torrance. My feelings were much the same as yours at hearing and meeting this man who changed my world.
He signed my Mac PowerBook for me. I’ll keep that old Pismo running forever, just because . . .