It’s been a long weekend. It feels long, but it is, as always, way too short.
Yesterday I attended Writers’ Day, an annual conference put on by New Hampshire Writers’ Project. Keynote speaker, Meredith Hall, gave an excellent speech. She has the unique skill of being able to write and speak. Ok, maybe that’s too much of a generalization, but in my experience, good writers often are introverted or, at a minimum, find it difficult to speak in front of a crowd, preferring the seclusion of a one-on-one with their word processing program. She spoke at length about, and read from, her memoir WITHOUT A MAP. I’m not a fan of memoirs, but her keynote address was so engaging that there is a high likelihood of me reading this in the near future.
I need to let that thought sit for a bit. Writers’ Day has an energizing affect on me. By the time I’m there for an hour, I want to write, to read, and to *gasp* edit my top three stories. I get all these wonderful, Muse-jabbering ideas, and by lunchtime, I don’t want to finish the lectures, but instead start wondering if I should go home and get to work.
Yes, I stick it out, because I went there for a reason – several actually. I went there for a class on self-editing and I went there for the panels of publishers, agents, and other industry professionals that have a different session every year because each is run by questions of the audience.
During the self-editing lecture, two things made me grateful for attending. First, the class was based on a part of a book I’ve been meaning to buy. I’m always hesitant to buy new writing books because too many are far too basic for my needs. While this lesson covered white space and paragraph/scene size and pacing – I have white space nailed and I’m fairly adequate at pacing, when I pay attention to it – it assumed you knew that sentences were made of nouns and verbs and it didn’t try to tell you that a change of topic required a new paragraph. Good stuff. I’ll let you know if the rest of the book is as useful once I have it. Maybe next week, or the following.
The second reason I enjoyed that class was that we were asked to bring a sample chapter to try out the techniques in the lecture. We swapped pages, a stranger reading my dear baby, and marked up where the techniques could be applied. He who reviewed mine (the second chapter of Kitty’s story) said he could offer no advice and he enjoyed reading it. Now I didn’t get to read his story, so I don’t know how good he is, but the average reader isn’t an editor either, and so I am very encouraged by his words.
Writers of all levels can find benefit in these conferences. Whether it be learning new styles, networking with other like minds, or getting your face out in front of agents and publishers, the Muse will happily feed on the creative energies flowing through a room full of writers.
PS Resolution #1 (Jordan): Not gonna happen this week. At all. [grumble]
PSS Resolution #2 (Kitty): Edited on paper. Effed up first chapter with an experiment. Otherwise on track.