I've gotten two conference reminders in the last two weeks. "Did you forget to send in your $300 check to reserve your spot with an agent who doesn't know squat about your genre?" "We have over 50 pointless sessions for you to sign up for, and we promise to deliver an incredibly horrible lunch with a lame keynote speaker that will make you want to beat your head repeatedly against a brick wall. "
OK so maybe they didn't read exactly like that, but honesty is refreshing everyonce in a while. I've been back in Columbus for just over two years now. My first summer back I found out about the two day writer's conference and I was dying to go. But I couldn't get enough money together. The second year I marked my calendar early, saved my money and then at the last minute contacted the conference coordinator to ask if they needed volunteers. What do you know. For a mere $40 bucks and a few hours of your time you can avoid that sizeable debt.
So I went.
Then I discovered it was not all it was cracked up to be. And anyone who knows me, knows that that is saying a lot. Considering I love writing and talking about the writing business, and publishing trends...I just find it all extremely fascinating. But this was just an amateurs conference posing as a professional one. I sat in one panel where the woman had to explain to the group what point of view was. Come on. Can you seriously call yourself a writer if you don't know the difference between first person and third person? Sure it can become complex when you look at the different types of third person, or purposely switch between a different POV. But just being able to identify the two. That's like a police officer who can't identify his own gun. Or more accurately can't tell the difference between a revolver and a riffle. Hmm. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
If it had just been one or two people then I would have felt better about the whole thing. I would have let it slide. But there were so many novice writers, people who just rolled out of bed one morning and decided that they would write a novel, that I almost find it a little insulting. I'm not saying that people shouldn't go after their dreams because they should. But I find that most people aren't doing it because it's a dream of theirs. Most people are doing it because it seems easy. And there is always some sad tale about the guy who didn't go to college and wrote a novel that sold movie rights and became a millionaire.
Not to burst your bubble, but that doesn't happen. I may sound cynical, but more realistically, if you look at any "new" author, you'll find that they have been writing for five, ten or fifteen years. That this recent novel took them two years to write and three years to sell. It was rejected 42 times. You would think there wouldn't be enough publishers to reject it that much. You have to find an agent that isn't a crook, but the good agents only work with established authors and no matter how good you work is...Slush is slush.
So yes, I find it insulting because I studied writing in college, because I have spent the last two years, learning my craft meeting with industry professional and and doing my homework and then people come up to me and ask stupid questions like, "what does it mean to show and not tell?" Come on people, the answers are out there!
Hmmm. I can see I went off on a little tangent here. Back to the purpose of the post, which was, I don't know if I am going to spend the time going to this conference this year because it was such a disappointment last year. Don't get me wrong. I did get some useful information. But I kind of feel like, hitting them up once every two or three years would be just as well. Plus if I am going to go to Salem this fall then I had better save my money (and vacation days) for that trip. Between Salem in October, and Wilmington on the 15th...I don't know if I can carve out anymore time for writing exploits. (ok, ok I will admit, some of it is for play too!)
Speaking of Wilmington, the group I just joined had a get together last week, and it was really a lot of fun. I stayed for like six hours, and usually I go to something like this, make an appearance and then make a run for it the first chance I get. But aside from being a total dork, who is still trying to comprehend how she ended up in a "fan club" anyway, I am having a lot of fun. There are a lot of younger folks, which is nice since sometimes it feels like everyone I hang out with is over 45 with kids my age.
Anyway... I am adding the link...tot he Wilmington event (http://www.hp-ohio.com/hbp.html#who ) so you can see how cool it is. I am going to be playing Angelina Johnson, Gryffindor Quiditch Captain for the event. Now here is the funny thing. I am making the costume myself. I have never sewn anything more than a square pillow. In fact I don't even own a sewing machine. I seriously considered stapling the cut out pieces of cloth together! Well somehow this weekend I went from having no machine (and being utterly panicked) to having two machines. Amazing, I remembered how to use it too...And started sewing no Monday. On Monday I sewed the armhole shut. On Tuesday I sewed the sleeve on inside out (so that you could see the seem). Let's not even think about how I am going to sew on the yellow racing stripes. But see, this proves that I am not afraid to learn. And I wouldn't have such great stories if I hadn't tried. I'll have to remember to take pictures so that you can see how horribly this costume turns out. Turns out I should have attended one of those costume sessions at Marcon!