Apparently I didn’t give a satisfying enough description of the writing conference. I have been told it was a little lacking. Ahem.
I could tell you who was there, and what wisdom they expertly imparted, but if you really wanted to know that, you probably already would have visited the website. You still can. Its right here: Weekend with Your Novel. But the experience was much richer than the list of names and workshops.
It was indeed a good weekend. Wonderful. And all the other things I mentioned. But after all was said and done, it was a also more than a little overwhelming. I didn’t realize it until I got home, and it wasn’t long before I began to panic. I was paralyzed with all the new knowledge, and the terrifying knowledge of all the work I had ahead of me. I poured over my notes, revisited my critiqued pages, remembered the missions I had taken on in my brief guerrilla writing experience, and promptly found myself incapable of doing a thing.
A few days into my funk, I set aside the computer and the notes and everything I had acquired (I did not throw anything), took a deep breath, dried the tears welling for the umpteenth time, and wandered over to my pile of books. I should have picked up a nice piece of fiction. I should have tried to escape a little. But in stead, I picked up Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I wasn’t ready to let it go I guess. I flipped around looking wildly for sections mentioning some of the things I knew I needed to work on, despite my inability to do so. I paused in three or four different places before returning to the very beginning. And every single place I stopped to read sent me nearly back into tears. A different kind of tears. Donald Maass is my new best friend.
Let me explain. All the instructors in Madison were wonderful. I really valued all they had to say, and took every word that I was capable of to heart. The only problem was that I took everything in with such intensity that I lost sight of my own novel. The conference, to be fair, was geared towards making your writing publishable, and there are as many opinions on that as there are stars in the sky. I learned about a few of them, and I got excited about lots of them. But I was taking things a little too far, ready to change everything about my novel, ready to do whatever I had to do, ready to sacrifice the very essence of the thing to the publishing beast.
Donald Maass disagreed with my frenzied zeal and reminded me to be true to myself, and true to my story.
Donald Maass is my hero.
After a few tear-soaked minutes with my new pal, Don, I was able to put all that glorious information, and all those glorious ideas from the weekend, into the proper context. Only a few minutes. That was all it took to bring me back to sanity, and a much healthier writing mindset.
I learned a ton at Weekend with Your Novel. I met amazing people. I received truly valuable feedback. And I found that despite my reservations, I rather enjoyed that big gathering of folks. It was pretty cool being surrounded by people who were as eager to talk about their writing as I was. But more than anything else, I learned, in yet another way (how many ways can you learn the same lesson?), moderation in all things. I get a little carried away sometimes.