Conference Afterglow

April 14, 2008 at 7:18 am | Posted in career, inspiration, Jessica, writing | 5 Comments

It was a super busy, tiring, exhilarating, motivating, inspiring and all-around awesome weekend, as are most conferences I get the chance to attend. Meeting new and old friends. Learning new things. Stocking up on new books. Making new connections. Conceiving new ideas and approaches for my writing life. As I think through and process all the elements from the weekend, there are just a couple of things I thought I could mention in today’s blog post.

There are certain elements about conferences that are out of an attendee’s control. Venue issues. Technical glitches. Travel atrocities. Inappropriate colleagues. [Fill in your personal conference peeves here.] But what I have learned over the years is that whether you have a personally good conference outcome or a bad one, the end result is up to you. The whole experience is truly what you decide to make of it.

There have been times when just one workshop has made the whole expense worth my price of admission. I love those A-HA! moments of clarity or inspiration or new line of thought. This parting of the clouds is magic to me, and there were two things that came to me over the past four days that made me want to reorganize the way I thought about my writing.

The first came when a NYT best-selling author was talking to me about the workshop she was set to deliver and she said, ‘[This topic] is what I needed to learn to sell my first book.’ So many times I feel as though I have everything left to learn and I am not sure I can distill the many craft pieces down to any one thing, or at least a small, prioritized list of things that I really need to learn before I sell. But this woman and the time and advice she shared with me make me want to fill in those gaping holes. In struggling with the amorphous blob that is my writing life I mentally chastised myself for not setting up a much better strategy. I am excited to change that and figure out the top three things I need to learn to improve my writing, if not sell.

One other thought that took on new and stronger meaning for me over the weekend can be summed up in two words: Who cares? Please don’t misunderstand my meaning here . . . I think about those two words in the context of the book(s) I am working on and I think to myself, ‘Who is going to care about these characters and what is going on between them, for them, or to them?’ In my mind, the stories I have been trying to tell just are not as compelling as I would like them to be. Granted, I am still learning so much about the process, and, to add to my to-do list from the previous paragraph, upping the care quotient is another aspect of my storytelling that I want to enhance.

So . . . a whole weekend spent and only two parting shots to report?! I’d say that was a pretty successful weekend!

We would love to hear about any conference revelations you may have had – in recent or from previous years – that have helped you overcome any blocks in your writing path. It’s all about the ‘Keep Writing!’




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  1. The conference was amazing; one of the best I’ve attended! I sat in on several workshops by some of my favorite authors and all I could think was, “I have so much to learn!!” I actually went home and deleted over 40 pages of my current WIP and started over. I’ve been struggling with this particular WIP, and have to say that some of the insights offered by the speakers changed my perspective on how I’m approaching my story. So even though I now have 10K less words than I did last week, I feel like I’m finally moving forward.

    I think it’s a never-ending learning process, Jessica. The important thing is not to get too overwhelmed, and just write the best story you can. I keep telling myself that at some point, each of those amazing authors started their journey from a place similar to ours.

  2. Karen,
    Thank you for stopping by and offering such great insight! I’m so glad you enjoyed the conference and that you learned so much at it. How bittersweet that you had to lose 40 pages, but I am thrilled to hear that you are moving forward on your current WIP. Please keep me posted – I am rooting for you!

  3. Bowing to you, conference diva! You guys did such a great job. For me, the single nugget that stood out was when Suzanne Brockmann said the thing that set her apart from all the others who were struggling up the same escalator to success (or lack thereof) was that she Did. Not. Quit. Very important point to remember. I’ve been in the “waiting doldrums” lately. Waiting on an editor, waiting on some agents, and it’s been working on my mental health. Yesterday, I decided to let it go. I have everything I need, not the least of which is a book on its way to publication. Time to let go of the stuff I can’t control and get back to the writing.

  4. Marie,
    Thank you for stopping by! I loved Suz’s message as well. It’s so true that Perseverance is one of the major of the Four P’s. You know I adore you no matter what, but I must say that I love ‘Zen Marie’. The things out of our control can make us crazy. I know what you’re working on and I know it will be a great hit. It will find the home it deserves, even if it takes longer than it seems like it should. I am proud of you! And if anyone is getting back to the writing, I know it’s you. You are one of the most prolific writers I know! If I bump into you at the next chapter meeting, do you think some of that productivity will rub off onto me?! LOL!

  5. You are too cute, Jessica! And yes, “Zen Marie” is back for a return engagement. She gets lost in the shuffle every now and then, but I do find the need to channel her when things get too crazy. Thanks for the vote of confidence on the WIP. Hope to chat with you soon!

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