I know getting a bunch of writers together to talk about craft and ambition sounds utterly painful but it was really a lot of fun.
- Your work is original. For all the people there in the same genre or with the same ambition – a small cottage in some foreign land where we can just sip tea and write – every person’s story was different. Everybody brings to the literary world a unique perspective. That’s exciting because it means there’s a place for all of us in the literary universe.
- There is no right way to do this. One of the faculty, Dr. David Coe, said this repeatedly. He shared his way of developing characters and evaluating dialogue but he issued the disclaimer beforehand that it might be total crap. It wasn’t, of course, he’s brilliant; but it was nice to know he recognized that everyone brings his or her own talents and skills to the process.
- Writers love their own work above all else. I know to be a good writer I must be a good reader and I am. I also know a lot of the people there were good readers. But given the chance to talk about favorite stories, we all veered toward our own work. I’m sure there isn’t a person who attended that didn’t know me as the woman who writes about time-traveling vampires.
- Like every profession, writing takes focus and a dedication to the craft. The writers we met who are successfully published and earning a living have all been writing with persistence and dedication for years. One of them said he didn’t believe in writer’s block.
“There is no block. There’s only writing. And you have to keep doing it.”
I loved that because I thought, software developers don’t get coder’s block and sales people don’t get prospector’s block and executives don’t get leader’s block. If the job is writing then you write.
That said, all professions have ups and downs and if one is experiencing a challenge, a conundrum, or something that might resemble blockage, then the same basic habits apply: find a new angle to pursue, take a walk and clear your head, focus on something else and come back to the problem.
All of those are work behaviors. Which goes back to the premise of the statement above:
Writing is work. Don’t ever think otherwise.
Luckily, for me and everyone at the SCWW this weekend, that work is something we not only love, but something we are truly proud of doing. It’s great to be at a networking event where they don’t say, “What do you do?” but, “What do you write?”
Some writerly friends shout outs: