Sunday, September 16, 2012

To Live is to Learn, To Learn is to Live

To LIVE is to LEARN. To LEARN is to LIVE – My thoughts on writers’ conferences

http://www.web-books.com/Classics/ON/B0/B577/015MB577.html
I just returned from attending an enjoyable and informative writer’s conference in Park City, Utah, hosted by the League of Utah Writer’s (an organization over 75 years old). When I signed up a few months back, a well meaning relative made the silly comment, “Why are you going to a writer’s conference? You’re already having your book published,” as if going to a writer’s conference was only for those needing help writing their first novel until it was picked by a publisher, and then there’d be no more need to attend writing classes. 

Well, I politely informed my sweet relation that even though my writing was publishable, it didn’t mean I’d learned all there is to know about writing. On the contrary, I’ve probably only scratched the surface of writing potential. I presently write in the historical/medieval fiction genre, but if I ever try a new genre, I’ll need to learn and research anew. But even remaining in one genre an author should NEVER feel, even after countless publications, there’s nothing more to be learned. Such an author is prideful and in need of a reality check. The world is ever changing, as are writing styles, desired content and audiences. There’s always SOMETHING to be gained and applied to writing to make it better, whether it’s a new idea or simply a reminder of something forgotten. 

I don’t write (at least for now) science fiction and fantasy, but I attended a sci-fi/fantasy class because I liked and respected the author presenting it. I came away with awesome notes and pointers that pertained to my medieval fiction genre. You can’t really separate the writing processes into genres. Yes, different genres have differences story content, but at the base, the formation of grammar, characterization, pacing, dialogue, action, plot and structure are the same. 

I came away with OODLES of notes to help me improve from guest speakers and presenters who included authors Andrew Smith, Marion Jensen, Elana Johnson, Barry Eisler, Dinty Moore, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and marketing/publicity guru Kirk Cunningham of Jolly Fish Press. There were others whose classes I couldn’t attend because of overlapping class times, and I’m sorry for that. I missed some equally awesome classes presented by Sarah M. Eden (one of my FAVORITE authors), Maxwell Alexander Drake, Chadd VanZanten, Annette Lyon, Robison Wells, Dianne Hardy, Margot Hovley, Heidi Thornock, Daniel Coleman and Ali Cross. 

On top of the information acquired at a conference, there’s the added benefit of the encouragement to keep going, keep trying, keep your hopes up, and to KEEP WRITING. The joy of mingling and conversing with fellow authors can’t be duplicated as they come from all walks of life, have diverse personalities and write all types of genres. The warm camaraderie and respect from other writers is uplifting. Even the meals are delightful, for me anyway. My favorite this year was the baked chicken and wild rice with large decadent slice of triple chocolate cake for dessert (that was for the awards banquet on Friday night). Shhh, don't tell my diet I splurged this weekend.

Bottom line, NEVER be so prideful of your writing that you feel you’ve learned everything possible and can’t benefit from anything else someone might pass your way. The author who holds that way of thinking may find they soon diminish and disappear altogether.

Never stop learning in some way or another.

12 comments:

  1. What a fun lineup of speakers! I wish I'd been able to attend. One of the bummers of living so far from the epicenter of things. (wink). Good points-- I joined ANWA when I'd had 2 books published (at the behest of my publisher) and within a couple of years had learned more about writing than in my previous 30 years of writing combined. Writing groups and conferences are invaluable! I'm glad you had a good experience!

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    1. Do they have writer's conferences in Arizona? There are so many people who live there, I'd think Arizona would be a GREAT place for writers. Unless, of course, you're thinking conferences closer to our publisher.

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  2. Great post, Elsie! I've got TONZ of notes too! I've already done my blog posts for this week so I probably won't post anything about the conference until next week, but I love this post! Totally agree with ya! And I'm sorry I missed that chocolate cake on Friday night! :( But really :D

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    1. It was so great to see you there! It's funny that we see each other more often at the long distance events than at our local meetings - LOL

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  3. My co-author, Stephanie, and I have been to several conferences. The Unicorn Writers' Conference in CT is wonderful- it is held at St. Clement's Castle. The other one we attended was not that great- however, we found our fabulous literary agent there. So, you never know, and these days, it's a good idea to get out there and see what's happening. Thanks for sharing this post : ) ~ Jess

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    1. St Clement's Castle is such a beautiful structure. How wonderful to have a writer's conference there. Too fun! I admit that some years I took less notes than other years' conferences, but I always came away with at least ONE beneficial thing. That great that you found an agent at one. Thanks for your comments.

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    2. Aside from the usefulness of going to these conferences for the benefits of learning better writing (which I COMPLETELY agree with) I think the networking possible at these conferences can’t be understated. Meeting authors, agents, publishers, and other important people from the writing world can only help to advance our careers.

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  4. Oh, I wanted to go to this! Maybe someday.

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  5. I wanted to go to that one too! We have so many great writer conferences in Utah too. LTUE & LDStorymakers are some of the best.

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  6. Absolutely! There are great conferences all over. I certainly can't make every one of them (nor can my tight budget finance them very often), but I go to what I can, when I can, and I try to benefit from the ones I go to.

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