Thursday, July 31, 2008

Conferencing - Julie

As Christy and ex-pat extraordinaire Davis Wakefield head off to SCBWI in Los Angeles this weekend, I of course must reminisce about my vast experience with writers’ conferences. All three of them. The first wasn’t even really a conference, more of a warm-up, located in one of the meeting rooms at Anna Maria Creekside Retirement Home in Medford. An agent was there, I think, talking about pitches and proposals. Our writing group was wide-eyed, soaking it all in, except for one moment when we were forced to roll our eyes at the guy in the Indiana Jones adventurer hat who asked if it were possible to have a book title copyrighted, nervously looking around, sure that someone would hear his title and rush home to write his NYT bestseller.

Next was the Whidbey Island Writers' Conference and after much discussion of which clothing choices would come off as confident without looking presumptuous, we set off to get the inside scoop on the world of publishing. The breakout sessions were my favorite part. This I understood. Figure out which ones sounded interesting, get some coffee and go listen to someone talk. Take some notes. Like college.

The one-on-one meetings with real agents, showing them my actual writing, this was different. This I did not understand. What’s my role here? Learner? Poser? Seller? Beggar? Bootlicker? I brought my manuscript to them the way a child shows you a bug they have found and are protecting in their little cupped hands. It’s neat alright, maybe it has some cool stripes or interesting shaped wings, but it is, after all, just a bug. Likely to be stepped on or squashed on a windshield or eaten by a frog the second it leaves their hands. So I showed them my bug and we talked about its stripes for a bit, then I put it back.

Then I went to the Big Sur Writers Conference to show THEM my bug. A couple of the more entomologically minded of them thought it was cool, but then of course there was the 'famous author' who thought a can of Raid was really the only thing for it.

Not to push my metaphor too hard, which I am very much prone to do, but Christy and Davis don't have bugs. They have honest-to-goodness high quality marketable works of fiction. They should be proud of themselves. I am.


Anonymous said...

I'm proud of them too, but I feel compelled to add that you are nothing to smirk at either! Lots of people don't even recognize a good bug when they see it, let alone realize it should be savored and pocketed for later. Someday everyone will realize what a fabulous collection you have and ask, "Why the hell have you been keeping these priceless little bugs to yourself?"

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous! It's nice to know someone else likes my bugs!