My writing mentor, Mark, has a list of writing goals he wants me to hit. These goals reside in his head because I imagine he thinks if he verbalizes them the pressure of expectation will bring out my best roly-poly imitation. The one goal for this year he did verbalize was that I should attend a convention. For convenience sake and to save on the cost of the hotel room, I chose the local DFW Writer’s Conference.
What an amazing first conference experience. The venue was beautiful; the organizers were on top of everything, always available and helpful in the extreme; the workshops were well-presented, informative and timely (the theme of the workshop was The Changing Face of Publishing); but most important, I met some of the nicest people in the world.
So much information was given that I’m still reeling a bit from information overload. Below, however, is what stood out.
“Your research is showing” – woo-boy did this phrase hit me like a ton of bricks, and it was not even directed at me! Basically, the writer is flooding the reader with background information and detail that is unnecessary to the story. I did not have to think hard at all to relate this to the novel I am working on. I think my research is showing through to the tune of at least 5,ooo words, if not more. I am sure I revisions will illustrate I was so intent on teaching my reader about Texas history that I forgot to tell a good story. Which brings me to…
“Every scene, every conversation, every action, every emotion has to move your story forward” – Rather self-explanatory and obvious but very easy to forget when you are in the middle of writing, at least for me.
“I do not think that word means what you think it means” – Every time I described my book at Historical Fiction set in Texas in 1871, everyone automatically thought it was 1) a western and 2) a romance, which made me all the more determined to write it as neither. My poor heroine is about to suffer grievously for this. (And I can’t wait to write it.)
I don’t lack motivation, I lack focus – The most useful workshop I attended was Candace Haven’s “Fast Draft.” Good God, Almighty do I need help with increasing my writing speed. When Candace ticked off the list of everything she does – columns, radio shows, author, president of TCA, wife, mother – I realized that there really was zero reason why my lazy self shouldn’t write six novels a year. I’ll settle for one at this point and I think Candace’s class is going to help me get out of my way. Proof: I wrote 15 pages last night.
New York Agents Are Only Kinda Scary – I’ve been scared of New Yorkers ever since I was harangued by a pushy New Yorker who accused of promoting the abuse of animals by petting a carriage horse in Times Square. Add in the fact that I are talking to a person whose answer meter stays on Mom Mode perpetually…
“Mom, can I…”
…then you can imagine my terror before my scheduled agent pitch. Two things worked in my favor. One, I was the second pitch session on the first day so she didn’t have time to get beaten down. Two, she was extremely nice. I still think they’re kind of scary, but only in the “I’m to old to ride a roller coaster way.” You now it isn’t going to kill you but you’d rather not take the chance unless necessary.
This isn’t all I learned, of course, but that is all I have time to tell about. I have a novel to finish!