24 January 2012

Writers' Digest Conference Recap

This past weekend I went to the Writers’ Digest Conference in Manhattan. It’s kind of a whirlwind still, and I haven’t landed on the ground yet. Here’s a list of my impressions:

1) Driving/being driven around Manhattan is more terrifying than jumping out of an airplane (true story)
a. Reason 1: Lanes are merely suggestions
b. Reason 2: Stop lights are optional
c. Reason 3: A Pedestrian only has right of way if they’re big enough to dent the bumper.
2) Most pedestrians have some sort of death wish or absolute trust in drivers.
3) It’s difficult to find a meal for two for anything under $50.
4) Oban 14 is now my favorite Single Malt scotch.
5) Being around a ton of other writers is both humbling and inspiring.
6) I know a lot more about psycho-developmental and cognitive theories than I gave myself credit for (at least as it pertains to writing).
a. Corollary: I am bad at experimenting with what I know (e.g. incorporating Meyer-Briggs type in my characters’ dossiers).
7) Donald Maass – believe the hype about him.
8) Chris Baty is hilarious and really down to earth. He was very proud when I told him that NaNoWriMo basically pulled me out of the engineering field. (I wonder if he keeps a tally on his car like some sort of literary Red Baron?)
9) My novel is a LONG way from being ready, but I now have the tools to tune it up right.
10) Literary Fiction (particularly “Lit light”) is the genre that dominates the Bestseller lists for one to two years at a time. All else is mostly passing through.
11) Pitching to agents in terrifying.
a. Insight: Having a killer synopsis would have helped strengthen my pitch.
b. Insight 2, the Insightier: A strong premise for the novel at the outset would have kept my story better in check.
12) Manhattan definitely has its appeals. It’s refreshing to stand on a street corner and hear four languages – none of which is English.

Here’s what actually being at the conference felt like:
The Process:
Level up! You have one specialization point to spend.
English Major 5/Manager 1/Novelist(Prereqs. Not met!)

*Click* “Novelist”
Error: you have not unlocked this specialization path yet. Visit the Master to level up.

Journey: To Manhattan –
Trial: Get time off work (Success)
Trial: Overcome nerves about being in a BIG city. (Failure, but too late! Committed to course of action)
Trial: Get Manuscript ready to present to agents (Partial Success)
Trial: Get manuscript copied (Great success – only wasn’t needed).
Trial: Airplane Ride – Babies were involved. (Success! Baby slept the whole ride)
Trial: Find the bus that goes to the hotel. (Success! With help from a mystical helper)
Trial: Survive the ride without soiling shorts (Partial Success!)

Congratulations! You have found the Masters.
Next step: Level up and spend Specialization point
Net adjustments: Perceptions ++, Insight +, Confidence ------, Craft Tools +, Networking ++, Exhaustion --, Bank account ------------------------------------------------, Optimism +

You have achieved level one Novelist!


Molly Whitt said...

Great overview!! Glad it went well! I can't wait to hear more about it. I take it the Oban 14 is to thank for our riveting textual communication :p

Zach said...

Sounds like you had fun in NYC. I've actually been strongly considering writing a sci-fi novel in my own free time), and after probing around for help on starting, I was directed to get "Writing Fiction for Dummies(*)" by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. It's very well reviewed on Amazon and helps with strategically planning one's novel, selling one's story ideas to agents, etc. So far, though I haven't finished it, I've found a lot of the stuff in it pretty useful. It's only <$20 on Amazon.

(*) Despite the title, it's actually geared to both novice and experienced writers

Laura said...

I get Randy Ingermanson's e-zine. It's pretty cool.

Thank you for the update Heydon. I was wondering how things had gone.