Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Have I quit writing yet?

Just got back on Sunday afternoon from a long weekend writers conference. I've attended the San Diego State University Conference four or five times since 2000. It's one of my favorites because it encompasses all genres. I find it invigorating to mix with short story writers, poets, authors of children's books, literary fiction, thrillers, SF, fantasy, and of course romance.

I'd booked this conference back in November and then lost my confidence in my writing abilities. It seemed nothing was going right in my life. I procrastinated about cancelling right up until a couple of days before, then I had to email Jenny Crusie about something else and mentioned my fragile state. She got the pom-poms out and gave me the Crusie blessing. Or did she say, "Quit bitching and get your ass to San Diego," either way it worked? Even though I'd had a bad sinus attack that had lasted ten days (and still lives on, darn it) I ended up having one of the best and most fruitful conferences ever.

One of the highlights was meeting and chatting for an hour or so with Susan Wiggs. It turns out we both have relatives who live in this tiny Northern Territory of Australia town that has a population of about 4,000. Small world, huh? Susan is one of my favorite authors. I love the emotional character arc of her protagonists. In fact I told her I'd nicknamed her novel, A Table For Five, the two hand sweep. I'd have to put the book down and sweep my cheeks with both hands because I was constantly crying. Not that boo-hoo sobbing kind of crying, more the type where you don't even realize you're doing it but your face is constantly wet. Never been there? Never mind. It must have hit an emotional chord with me. It's truly a lovely story and very well written.

I also got to quiz Bob Mayer on a couple of writing questions although I didn't take any of his classes this time as I'd just gone to his retreat. I met up with a lot of lovely ladies, had many memorable conversations and attended an evening critique session that started at 8:30pm and ended at 2:15 am. We each turned in the first three pages of our manuscript, the facilitator read the entry aloud and we all got to comment, then she gave her critique. It was extremely beneficial and pointed out to me that 75% of the problems newbie writers have is in the area of point of view violation and exposition. I remember those days well.

I received several invitations to submit my work and am beyond thrilled. Today I began an indepth polish of the manuscript and I'm liking it more than ever. I asked for three or four weeks before sending because I don't want to rush this. My norm is usually to run home, print up the manuscript and send it immediately. As I told some of my writing buddies, in the past if my work had been steak it would still have been mooing on the plate. By taking my time, this time around, I'm hoping the work won't be undercooked.

So by the looks of things, I'm back. All I needed was a little injection of confidence. My stint away from writing lasted less than a month. Not bad, huh?

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