Monday, February 19, 2007

Conferencing

Blogeois and WS have spent the last weekend at a writing conference in San Diego. I would have loved to have gone, had I the money to do so. It's been a very long time since I've been at an all-out writing conference. I miss it.

I used to attend when I lived in Texas. They are everywhere, there, usually hosted by a university or academic organization. My first real experience at one was at the Sigma Tau Delta conference in Denver in the early 90s. I went with a friend who was giving a paper (on Chaucer, I think). I was attending only as a member of Sigma Tau, but found myself in a poetry reading where only one of the poets had shown up to read. They asked for any volunteers out of the attendees and I found myself with my ever present poetry journal standing in front of a room of academics from around the country reading my poetry. I was scared as hell. I still don't know what possessed me to get up there. I never considered any of my poems *worthy* (worthy of what, I still couldn't say).

I had several people speak very well of my work afterwards. It was a good feeling, and, no doubt, the reason I pursued attending other conferences. My academic achievement folder is full of programs listing me as a reader at some point during the conference. Always poetry, though. I was a poet then, dabbling in short stories only when our creative writing classes demanded it. And novel writing, well, that was something I had done back in junior high. Definitely "not my thing." I was a poet.

I'm still a poet, but now I'm no longer so set on what is or isn't "my thing." Oh, short story writing still continues to elude me. But novel-writing isn't something I fear any longer. I'm getting the hang of the basics. I know I have a good sense of characterization, plot, and tension, I just need more experience weaving all those elements together.

One of these days I'll attend a big writing conference. It would be neat to hear what others folks are doing and to learn from their experiences while holding my own work up to see how it compares. I'm confident enough in myself to know that I'm a fair writer (and sometimes, I'm pretty darn good, just not consistently so). But it's good to hear it from your peers, you know? Helps keep you going when it feels like you are the only person in the world who cares about what you are putting on a page.

Because, face it, writing can be a very lonely career, and half the time I stall out because I know, no matter what I get written that day, nobody is going to be patting me on the back going "good work today" or "gee, I loved how you introduced that secondary character to add tension to the backstory" or "lovely use of descriptive metaphors." Conferences give writers a chance to see and meet the community they belong too.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blogeois said...

Bing! Bing! Oh, and...Bing again! Exactly my thoughts.

BTW, how you introduced that secondary character to add tension to the backstory rocked. Totally.

Ris said...

Gee, thanks! *blush*

Hope you had a fun, or at least interesting, time at the con!