There are numerous writing events run throughout the year and I believe that as a writer you should attend at least some of them. Of course, pick and choose those that appeal to you. A book talk by a favourite author, a convention or a workshop.
What are the benefits of attending such events?
1.Information– you don’t know what you don’t know!
Perhaps you are confused by the term ‘Show Don’t Tell’– you’ve heard explanations but are still unclear- and then you attend a talk and the presenter explains it so well that suddenly it makes sense.
Maybe Goal Motivation and Conflict are difficult to implement and then an explanation clarifies the concept. This was clarified for me at the recent Rockingham Writers’ Convention. Natasha Lester author of The French Photographer/ aka the New York times bestseller The Paris Orphan presented a workshop made the whole concept clear and accessible.
An incident happens because of an action taken by someone, they took that action because of an emotion they felt to try and achieve a goal and they want that goal because it satisfies a need. Obviously, the goal is not easily achievable, and the events and challenges are what adds complication to the plot and keep us reading. We want to live the story – experience the emotion, it’s the reason most of us read fiction. Knowing the concept is one thing now to try and apply it to my own writing.
I also attended a talk called ‘Trouble is Our Business’ presented by Guy Salvidge. This presentation was about crime writing. Now I don’t currently write crime, but I do read it, enjoying Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series. Michel Robotham’s recent hits including his latest Good Girl Bad Girl. as well as Robet Galbraith’s Corman Strike series and Ann Cleeves Shetland series. I may one day decide to write crime although I prefer the cosy end of the spectrum In that spirit, I attended this informative talk.
Writing crime is definitely Guys’ passion and he led us through the tropes which make up the genre. There is a cornucopia of crime from the Golden age (1930s- 40s) to domestic noir to cosies to psychological crime.an offshoot could be considered is legal fiction. Then there are books written from the perspective of a detective, a police officer or even from the criminal themselves. There are even light-hearted crime novels such as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Guy reminded us that crime fiction has its own rules of genre and that you will need to research carefully if you set your book in an earlier era. Crime is not just about the crime-its about place and person and atmosphere. Readers know their genre and know what they expect.
Apart from the informative talks, it’s the mix and mingling which contributes to your learning. You find out which contests are worth entering or which publisher is accepting submissions, as well as learning of less than stellar experiences with editors and publishers. Sadly, every business has its sharks
- Connection. Writing can be a lonely business. Just you alone in front of the screen talking to your imaginary people. To write about life you need to live it. An event is an opportunity to meet people- to talk, to laugh, to share. Even if you are writing futuristic fantasy – there has to be something that resonates with your human readers.
3 Encouragement. Hearing success stories boosts your morale and your intentions to do more and to be more. You realise these people faced daily challenges too, such as carving out time to write, battling self – doubt, taking children to school, or even working full time. They have dared to follow their dream and you can too.
For me the most encouraging and inspiring presentation was that of Josh Langley, talking about ‘Finding your Creative Mojo.’ He developed this talk from his book fo the same name and geared it specifically for writers. He’s living the life he once dreamt about and shared how as a double high school dropout he achieved his dreams. We laughed, we empathised and we came away engaged and inspired.
Not officially billed ,but as much a part of the presentation was Andy Macleod. Josh’s long-time life partner, business partner and friend. When he spoke about going to university as a mature aged student, I really connected. It’s what I have done, and I found it a life-changing experience. The courses I took opened my mind and gave me the tools to express myself.
Andy’s quote from Joseph Campbell has stayed with me
‘The cave you fear to enter has the treasure that you seek.’
Finding your creative spark is all about ignoring the inner voice, the critic, and entering that cave.
Attending events reinforces your sense of identity as a writer. You have found your tribe. Others recognise you, ask about your work, talk about theirs. You may make a connection that lasts a lifetime or find a critique partner to exchange work with. By being visible you remind others of your presence and your work. This may lead to other opportunities to collaborate with someone, to speak on a panel, or to give an author talk Equally importantly you can share any information you have gained along the way with less experienced writers. Be generous, remember who helped you and thank them.