This was a good day for cuts.
I cut the first twenty minutes of the first session because I didn’t sleep too well last night. Note to self: watching VH-1 is not good for one’s health. Remember when it used to…nawww…I’m not going to get into it now. Too easy.
The reason why I cut it was that the first session was more of a breakfast buffet where you sit at a table with an ‘expert’, talk to them or listen to them talk for 20 minutes, then move on to another table and ‘expert’. I was only really interested in three tables, so I timed my late entrance so I get a little more sleep. Hey, it worked in college. So mainly, I learned about non-fiction niche markets with Dennis Hensley and online literary websites with Nickole Brown. But it was at Heather Seller’s table that I get the best ever explanation of what “show vs. tell” means. But I’ll tell you about that later.
(And yes, this is irony that right now, I simply told you rather than showed you what she did, but come on, my mind is mush right now. You’re lucky you’re getting anything out of me at this point of time.) Suffice it to say, it lifted me out of the little funk I ended the day with yesterday.
After the morning sessions, I grab lunch and head back. One of the speakers, Crescent Dragonwagon (before you ask, yes, that’s her name. Stop giggling.) mentioned that for anyone who’s interested, she would conduct a writing exercise before the afternoon sessions start. So I join in.
Let me tell you something. At some point during a writer’s conference, you need to write. It’s far more useful and fun if you do it with a bunch of other writers, but when you write at a writer’s conference, you realize that all the stuff you agonized about (theme? symbolism? tone? how the heck am I going to remember all of this and churn out good stuff?! Nobody loves me…I’m a freeeeeak!) really isn’t bad after all. In fact, you will be shocked to learn that all the stuff that’s been pounded into your brain over the past couple of days are still there, simmering, waiting for you to gently lift it out in your words. And even though what you’re writing is simple stuff, first draft stuff, the quality of what you’re writing is so much stronger than what you did before.
Another reason why I did it was that Dragonwagon (and I’m sorry if you’re reading this, Ms. Dragonwagon, but each time I type that, it makes me giggle just a tiny bit) used the exercise to illustrate the ‘tone’ of writing. It was actually quite simple: she had us write a couple of paragraphs that reflected a certain mood or emotion, like ‘joyful’ or ‘somber’ or ‘hysterical’. I never really understood much about ‘tone’, but doing that exercise spelled it out for me, so much so I looked at my watch to see that the next session had come and gone, just like that. Feh–I subscribe to Writer’s Digest anyway, so I know about all the websites that writers need to know.
Dragonwagon (giggle…giggle…okay, I’ll stop.) was doing the next session, so I figured I had about half ‘n hour to track down some people. One of the great things I love about this conference is that people are so accessible. The speakers are not only willing to speak to you, but if you need them to clarify something, they will sit you down and talk to you so that you come away with a better understanding of things. So I tracked down Dennis Hensley and got him to explain a bit more about the literary genre, something I’ve been trying to wrap my head around since I’ve started writing, period. Then I tracked down Jane Friedman and talked to her about magazine stuff. Then I perused the book table as they started breaking it down. Then I got some water, and wandered about. Then I filled out the evaluation form….
And that was when I realized that I completely missed out on Dragonwagon’s session. Whoops.
Oh well. That’s okay. What I learned today far made up for it, and I think my mind is still sulking from yesterday, so I’m not going to hammer it with information anymore.
All that’s left is the banquet, and then home again, home again, jiggety jig. After I write this, I’m going to close my laptop, put it back in the bookbag, and stash it someplace until after the banquet is over. My shoulders hurt so much for lugging this thing around, I keep expecting to hear a loud snap, and down will come everything: laptop, bookbag, both shoulders and all….