21 March 2011

What a Weekend!!

I had the most fabulous time at Jason F. Wright's "Some Day" One Day Writing Workshop on Saturday, and I'm still bubbly and bouncy over the whole experience two days later!

The workshop was absolutely amazing! The other attendees were friendly and fun, and everyone had his or her own voice. We heard some great writing samples throughout the course of the day, centered around a "car accident" we created in the conference room. (Jason had 3 of our group act out a quick 5-minute skit, which we then all wrote about later - to illustrate the way we can each take the same basic information and everyone will give it a different twist.) And Jason offered great insights into the publishing process, from his own experiences in seeking out an agent and a publisher for the first time, and wonderful, helpful hints on the writing process. ("Pouring Concrete" might just get its very own blog entry later!)

Skype calls with Heidi Taylor (Shadow Mountain Publishing), Sarah McLellan (Folio Literary Management) and Matt Birch (Matt Birch Public Relations) were fascinating and informative. They answered questions about the whole publishing process, from "How do you know when you're ready to start submitting your manuscript?" ("When it's as perfect as you can possibly get it.") to "How involved should I be, as the author, in marketing and publicizing my own book?" ("The more involved, the better!")

But the best parts of the day were things that only matter to me. Little, fairly insignificant things that no one else would notice, but which touched me personally. Jason would call them "Seventeen Second Miracles" (and if you haven't read his book by that title, I urge you to do so!) - I just call them life.

If you know me (or if you've read any of my previous posts), you know I firmly believe in daily miracles. Angels walk among us, without wings, in the form of our friends, family, coworkers and even total strangers. Heavenly Father answers prayers in very significant ways through the little, insignificant moments we tend to overlook when we aren't watching.

So the moments that mattered most to me:
* When Jason emailed a reply to my registration request and told me he was looking forward to seeing a friend! (It probably took 2 seconds, and I doubt he thought twice about it, but isn't it wonderful when someone you don't see often takes a moment to say "I'm glad you're my friend" - and you know they really mean it?)
* When Beth pulled me aside during our first break to say she thought my novel sounded interesting and we exchanged email addresses so we could keep in contact and send each other samples for critique. I desperately wanted to approach my fellow writers, but my fears had taken over, and I was once again standing off to the side, only talking to Jason (since he was the only one I knew coming into the workshop). Beth broke the ice, and made it okay for me to join the group!
* When Jason read my writing exercise aloud and stopped to point out how much he liked my one-sentence paragraph. I do that from time to time, when a thought needs some emphasis. Mostly because it just comes naturally to me. That's the way I talk. But as I'm preparing to send my first manuscript out into the scary publishing world, I began to wonder if that quirk would be off-putting. I felt like doing cartwheels through the conference room when he said it was a good thing! :)
* When Matt Birch ended his conference call with the advice: "It may be frustrating. People may even be very rude to you. But don't give up. Someone will care." My closest friends (and those who were there Saturday, because I mentioned it afterward) know that the most crippling criticism I've received so far was last year, when I submitted my novel to a major contest. The reviewer's response to my story I was so proud of? "No one in their right mind would ever care about a character like the one in this story!" Harsh, rude, and very disheartening. In tears, I set the manuscript aside and almost decided I wasn't cut out to be a writer at all (until my friend's wonderful son asked me to write a story just for him - but that's another blog post altogether...) But when Matt Birch announced "Someone will care!" it felt like a direct response to that horrible reviewer. He could have chosen many other ways to phrase the sentiment, but he chose the words I needed most to hear!

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