Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Write, Therefore I . . . Am I?

Are you there, Bossk?  It's me, Outfield.

So, my weekend was mostly spent at a writers' conference (the same one I got so much out of last year, where I said to myself, "Self, this is the year I'm going to drive a novel and write a Corvette!").   This year was much less inspiring, but I still tried to go to as many panels as I could, take notes, and take what was said to heart.

Heck, I even got up at 8:20am on the last day, so I could be at a nine o'clock panel!  That's something of an accomplishment for a guy who would rather go to a work meeting at ten pm than ten am.

The thing I guess I most came out of this particular conference with was that "real" writers (ie, those on panels rather than me) have a tremendous output.  They see writing as a job, rather than a pastime or hobby or something they want to do in some nebulous future.  One writer talked about having over a hundred books published since 1980, one woman wrote fifteen Romance novels in 2015, one guy talked about challenging himself to write thirty stories in thirty days and sending all of them out to contests and magazines (only eleven of them sold, the poor dude), and one author boasted about her tremendous success, how attractive she now is, and getting flown to England and treated like royalty there while her husband and kids had to stay home).

I know I need to change my attitude and write more often, and so, I've written every day this week (and every day the week of the conference, so they might not be related).  But the attitude still won't budge.

Most of the time--unless it was a movie or superhero panel--I sat in the audience and thought, "I could never be up there.  I'm not a real writer."*  But I nonetheless wrote an entire story in my program, and have already recorded a podcast for it (which should come out around August or September, at this rate).

Like last year, I found there were several panels that I would have liked to go to, all scheduled at the same time.  For example, on the last day, at five, there were the following panels: All the Best Lines (about fascinating villains), Gathering Your Tribe (surrounding yourself with people who will lift you up instead of tearing you down), Short Stories Vs. Novellas, Giving and Accepting Critique, Portrayals of Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Image Manipulation (Photoshop), Making a Living as an Artist, The Culture of Immortality, and Writing Natural Dialogue.  All at the same time!  I would've been happy to go to any of those, even the Image Manipulation one, but I decided I'd go to Gathering Your Tribe.  It was full.  So I went next door to the Artist one, sat down, only to find out that it was the drawing kind of artist, an illustrator-type.  So I had the option between Natural Dialogue at the other end of the building, or Critique right there, and already started.  I went into that one, and had to sit on the floor because it was so full (I wish they had scheduled some of these panels on the first two days, when I could always sit on either the first or second rows).

But unlike last year, I somehow persuaded my pals Jeff and Big to come along, and I hope both of them got something out of the panels.  So, it was cool to be able to have friends at this thing, but I never had the benefit of one person going to one panel and me going to the other, then swapping notes about them afterward.

Not all of the panels were enjoyable.  There was one on Pixar that told me nothing I didn't already know (except that several people think CARS 2 is worse than THE GOOD DINOSAUR, which I would disagree with), but it's always cool to learn new things.  I haven't been in school for a while, but sometimes I think about how nice it would be to be in a class where I just go and sit and find things out I didn't know before, and maybe use them in life, maybe just take a test on them.  Weird.

I'd say the most horrific panel I attended was called "Write A Novel In Three Days" with a woman who does it all the time.  She detailed how it can be done, and I took notes and listened, but at the end of the presentation, when she said, "By a show of hands, how many of you think you will try this?" I did not raise my hand.

I do think I could write three short stories in three days, based on her plan, and maybe I'll attempt that in the spring or summer (depending on my work schedule).  But I also feel I might have benefited more from the presentation in the next room, where Doctor Frank N. Furter explained that In Just Seven Days, I Can Make You A Man.

Something that was stated more than once is that a writer should set attainable goals.  I've put that in bold.  Little things that are accomplishable right now, that might be stepping stones to bigger goals like selling my story to a magazine, writing a pair of successful novels, make enough money from my writing to quit my job, or grow a tremendous wang.  

Oh, there was one more little thing I got out of there that I made a note of.  Mary Robinette Kowal, who I know more for podcasting than writing, said that she often suffered from Impostor Syndrome, and others on the panel agreed with her.  I made a note of it, and was certain that that's what I am afflicted with.  Yay, all my questions have been answered!

But then I looked it up, and found that it affects people who are successful.  Whoops.

Oh, Bossk got back to me.  I guess he's not really there.  He's imaginary.


*Oh, there was a panel on the first day called Producing Your Own Audiobook, where a woman talked about Audible's self-publishing wing and that whole process.  I could've/should've been on that one.

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