"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Another conference. Done and done.

I've just spent three-and-a-half days in San Diego, at the Southern California Writers' Conference and I'm both exhausted and supercharged. I was up every night until after midnight, and up every morning by seven a.m. and there was copious amounts of sushi and wine and discussion and laughter and hijinks in between. So it was a success.

Here are the highlights:

1. I kept my voice for the entire conference. This is a highlight because, for the past TWO conferences, I have lost my voice on Friday night and had to power through teaching my workshops. I owe this to avoiding all colds and viruses, and beginning every morning with a witches' brew that looks like this:

It's oranges, lemons, honey, ginger and turmeric. I put a hearty tablespoon in hot water and drink it. What a throat soother!

2. I got to hone my pitch/logline for A MORE DEADLY UNION in Jenny and Marla's Pitch Witches workshop. Now when someone asks me what my book is about, I can tell them,

"Peri is a 50-year old private investigator who knows two things: She doesn't want to get married AND she is happy to stick her nose in police business when she's solving a case. Suddenly, her boyfriend Skip is in a coma, and her case is interfering with the police's ability to find his shooter. Now all she knows is, she'll do anything if Skip will wake up--even marry him."

Jennifer Silva Redmond and Marla Miller, taking your calls.

I recommend their sessions highly for cutting through the fat of your pitch or query, and getting to the meat. 

3. Every night ended at the bar and every morning came too early, the sign of a good conference.

4. My workshop went well, so well that we were still talking when Laura Taylor came in to teach hers--oops! My apologies to Laura, and I tried to get out from under her feet as quickly as possible.

5. It was the conference's 30th anniversary and we celebrated!

With cake.

Wes Albers (left), and Michael Steven Gregory, blowing out the candles.

6. I came away with renewed energy, fond memories, and a burning desire to see these people again. What shocks me about this group of people is that we're not actually a group of people. We're not an organization - there is no membership roll, no dues, nothing but two conferences a year. And yet, we are a tribe, a community of writers who love to gather and discuss writing and feel that no one has an agenda, that we are happy for each other's successes, and that we are in safe company.

This particular weekend was about the quality of our writing. Without going into detail that would be unnecessarily painful and harsh, our tribe recently experienced a disturbance in the force. Someone we thought was one of us turned out to be not-so-much. Most of us spent the weekend going through the five stages of grief every half-hour. But it's okay, because it allowed our relationships to be cemented stronger, and to improve our writing even more. 

We will lift our words up until the universe sings our stories. We will aim for excellence and settle for exceptional. And in the meantime, we will write more and suck less.

I can't wait until September. Go here if you can't wait, either- http://writersconference.com/la/


Linda Rhoades said...

Gayle, good recap, well told. :-)

Jennifer Silva Redmond said...

Brilliant combination of summary and sermon.

Laura Taylor said...

No apologies needed, my friend. You give value to your students and that's why we're all there. :) Terrific final comments on one of our very best efforts at SCWC-SD #30. See you soon. Hugs, LT

Michelle Rodenborn said...

Now you have me curious about the "traitor." What a "hook"!

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