Heading into the writers conference, in the back of my head was the mantra, "I'm doing this for Heather." Not because I didn't want to go, but because I didn't know WHY else I was going to a writers conference. That, and Heather's a REAL writer, working on three separate books (not a series). I just wanted to have fun and be around other creative types. That's a great reason to spend a boat load of money and travel halfway across the country, right?
This conference did three things for me. I'm so glad I went.
1) I realized that I am a writer.
Five years ago when I attended this conference, I wasn't a writer. Not even a beginning one. I had written NOTHING since high school. Nothing. Journal rants about people I couldn't stomach, and records of nightmares I was trying to decipher. Not a writer.
Being with other writers, talking about the craft, exchanging stories and information, answering questions - the week highlighted my writing experience, even if I don't think of myself as prolific.
I have y'all to thank for most of that. Blogging is how I started writing. If y'all weren't such great friends, so encouraging, so hilarious in your comments and your own posts, if I didn't have this community, I never would have kept up with the blogging and probably would have turned exclusively to other art forms. So, thank you!
2) I know a lot more than I thought I did.
I have to thank Lil' Bro here. A couple of years ago I was gung-ho about starting a website about a specific topic to make money. Lil' Bro is in marketing and he knows his stuff. He would talk to me late into the evening about SEO's, the right way to drive traffic to my site, how to title articles and posts, a wealth of information. I took copious notes. I didn't do a whole lot with them, but it sunk in.
This last week, sitting in Al Gansky's Writer for Hire workshop, I realized how much of what he was saying about how to succeed in writing I already knew. Not everything, but enough to text my brother and thank him. That was a good feeling. An I-can-do-this feeling.
3) I'm inspired to write.
I don't necessarily have the energy, but I am inspired. Pneumonia has kicked my tuckus. Typing this is wearing me out. And it's been a long time that I've had one thing or another. Here's hoping antibiotics knocks it out for good and I can stay well.
There are several writing projects I've picked up and discarded, or tucked away, the last couple of years. Listening and interacting last week with faculty and conferees, I realized that the passion for a couple of those projects is still lurking under the surface. One in particular, which I put away because the subject matter is so dark, so not-me. But it begs to be written.
I didn't want to spiral into depression writing the story. Neither did I want to write something upbeat and ruin it. Deb Raney, in her Surprises and Secrets workshop (shhh! I'm going to tell you one of her secrets), talked about writing being depressing when you delve deep into the lives and psyches of the character. Not everything is sunshine and roses.
That was just what I needed to hear. That it's normal to ride emotional roller coasters when developing a character. That it's what I have to do to get the story out.
With all the laughter and tears, the activity and inspiration, these three things meant the most to me. I highly recommend a writers conference if you can find one to attend (if you love to write). Oh! There were also speakers there (public speakers use the written word), editors, writers of every type. Try one out. There is probably a conference near you sometime this year.
Until I write again ...