Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Over the weekend, I attended a local writing conference. Now, I’ve found that writing conferences, especially one-day writing conferences present a small challenge.

The goal (in theory) is for some famous, highly experienced writer to explain to all of us novice and/or struggling writers just how we also can become famous and highly experienced. The challenge is fitting that sort of training into an hour-long workshop on “Making Your Characters Tick (but not like a time-bomb)!” or “14 Ways to Avoid Saying ‘Said’.” As I told you, it’s a challenge.

However, I don’t expect to learn all of these incredible trade secrets at the conferences. Instead, I go to get my annual dose of inspiration.

Unless you happen to be a writer, you probably can’t imagine how much fun it is to sit in a banquet hall with 150-200 other writers. Don’t make fun of me—I’m sure if you like computers or car engines, you like sitting in the same room with other people who like computers or car engines. The other people don’t even have to say (state, disclose, propound, iterate, etc.) anything. Just their presence makes the words begin to bounce about in my head. In a nice way, of course.

I’ve been experiencing a little discouragement recently in my writing. This fall, I sent out a handful of queries. I didn’t expect to get anything back, and I didn’t. Not even rejections—just no answers.

Then my current Areaex novel threw a fit and quit on me.

I’ve been intending to write more queries, send out a poetry packet, start a short story or two. Have I gotten there? No. At least, not yet, inspite of my long-held admiration for deadlines. I’ve been putting the writing part off.

I’ve been working on my writing skills, I argued to myself. I’m not ready yet to submit something. Even better, I'm avoiding the significant stress that deadlines tend to create.

Just to illustrate how bad the problem was getting: I read a post on Urban Muse, a blog I start following this fall, about actually putting writing skills to use. One of the writing coaches interviewed for the post emphasized that it doesn’t matter how well you write if you don’t actually write, and then send it out to get published. I liked the idea so much that I intended to post about it here—that was at least three weeks ago.

At the conference, though, one of the speakers explained how she got 54 rejections on various novels before one of her books was accepted. Inspiring? You bet! Now I’ve got to start sending out more queries; I’ve got to start building my ‘rejection letter’ collection. It's pretty empty at the moment, hardly anything to brag about.

So, yes, I came home from the conference ready to send out half-a-dozen queries and scatter my poems here and there on the winds of literary publications.

Practical results? Today I send three poems off to a contest and sent two article queries to a children’s magazine. I also achieved another goal about two weeks ago by signing up to review books for Tyndale Blog Network—note the new gadget on my sidebar. I'm hoping to get the first book soon and post my review here.

Now I can relax, right?

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