Sometimes when I’m writing, it can feel like a very solitary pursuit. Picture me, sitting in a dark room. Harsh light emanates from my computer, illuminating a face that has turned gremlin-ish due to concentration on my literary pursuits. My back is hunched, from hours at the keyboard, in a manner that would make Quasimodo’s posture seem exemplary. I mutter in a Gollum-esque fashion, skittering under my desk and crying over my Precious if the Roomie dares turn on a light.
Not really a pretty picture. (And truly sincere apologies to the Roomie for the number of times she’s had to see that crazed look in my eyes.)
But wonder of wonders….I have discovered that I am not alone.
Last week I mentioned that I was headed to the Backspace conference. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday up to my ears in all things writing. Not only was I finally able to put voices to the agents whose blogs I follow, but I actually got to speak to them about my work. Which was both supremely exciting and mildly nauseating. I got some positive feedback and some really constructive suggestions on how to make my work better.
I listened to published authors talk about their books and journeys. I heard presentations on how to more effectively use social media. And in perhaps one of the most helpful sessions, I took down questions from Donald Maass designed to make my characters’ lives harder and my story better.
All of these things made this the most useful conference I have ever attended. However, the best part of this experience was meeting all the other people who are trying to do exactly what I’m trying to do. Dozens and dozens of individuals who have also completed books and are now embarking on the fairly terrifying road to possible publication. I heard so many different phenomenal story summaries from these people and I got to talk to them about how nervous they were about being there. And about reading their work out loud in front of people they’d never met. And about accepting both criticism and praise gracefully.
So, I am going to head back to my computer and revert to my gremlin-y ways. Only now, I know what new directions to explore when I’m writing. And now, I know that when I come up for air, there are a whole bunch of people with whom I can email and commiserate.
And that’s just a world of awesome.