If you have read my profile, you know that I am a fledgling writer. This post was also posted to my writers blog: Defender of the Blahs, and on the News Page of my main website. I thought for those of you that don't visit those sites you might be interested about my weekend at my first ever writer's conference, and how my cockiness got slapped around, chewed up, and spit out - - and it was good.
The La Jolla Writers Conference
After the first day of the conference, and please don't think me horrible for saying this, I didn't feel like I was told anything that I didn't know. Little did I know, the next two days would knock that cocky little attitude right out of my thick skull.
It sort of felt like the time I told a friend about having an autographed picture of a particular favorite football player, and he said, "Yeah, that guy is great. I have an autographed jersey of his."
I have been writing all my life and thought that I had it all figured out. Then here comes along this conference to humble me. It's like I have been playing chess with children all my life, patting myself on the back over my numerous meaningless victories, and then was suddenly put into a match with Bobby Fisher, and he beat me in four moves.
Ah, but that's how you become a better chess player. You play against the better players, and this conference was full of them.
At one particular critique the first chapter of my Political Pistachio was shredded up quicker than classified papers at The Pentagon. They tore me a new asterisk, or two. Then I tried my pitch out in a marketing class, and was left speechless (which is pretty hard to accomplish with my rapidly flapping lips, sometimes).
I needed vindication.
So in the final class of the third day I pulled out my last work, The Way of Deception, and even manipulated it a little to make sure it was perfect. Granted, it wasn't pounced on as bad as Political Pistachio, but it received the jabs that it deserved.
What's the moral to this story?
I nearly decided that the moral was that I need a good butt kicking. But that isn't it at all. And the moral could easily be something like that you are never as good as you think, and every writer can use a little skin-thickening every once in a while. But the true moral to this story is that writing is like no other business I know. It is cut-throat in the sense that few get through the guarded door to publication, and that it is a difficult process, though not impossible. But, writers are not cut-throat to each other directly. Writers are the most giving people you will ever meet when dealing with other writers. The critiques are not designed to put a writer in his or her place. The advice is not designed to expose inexperience. All of it is for one reason and one reason only. To make you a better writer.
After 34 years of writing, I am growing up and becoming a writer. 300 rejections or so has toughened my hide. The La Jolla Writers Conference polished it so that I may shine.
Thank you, my fellow writers; and for those of you reading this (that are aspiring writers) that have never been to a conference, go to one, and network like crazy.