Photo totally pilfered from Crash's blog. I regret nothing.
Well. I'm home. And oh, my goodness, so many things to tell you!
I learned all sorts of stuff at my writers' conference, the first being, it is possible to drink so much Diet Coke your eyes cross. But it was that or put my car on cruise and nap for a couple of hours between Cedar City and Nephi, since my kids kept me awake until two ayem the night before I was supposed to drive from Vegas to Provo. Can I just tell you, vampires are no great shakes. I'm raising a couple, and they're killing me. And not in any way that has a chance of being optioned in a three-picture, multi-zillion dollar deal.
I learned that dinner with blog pals is totally the way to start a weekend away from home! Met Karen and Sue and Melanie and Debbie for dinner and had such a great time sharing yummy gourmet pizza and laughing and gabbing like we'd known each other forever. And I stayed with my darling sister, Amber, which was so great and something we don't get to do much.
I learned that Debbie and Melanie are completely awesome. Seriously, we were the Three Musketeers and the Three Amigos and the Three Faces of Eve all rolled into one sassy trio of threesomeness. Wait. Is that a sex term? I've been among Mormon writers for so long I can't remember what qualifies as naughty and what doesn't any more.
I also learned that I'm much too wild and wicked for the LDS writing market. Despite warning my critique group that my manuscript pages included two uses of the word "damn", one use of the word "hell", and a half-dozen uses of the word "refrigerator", they were still rendered catatonic when I read my prose aloud. Poor girls. I was especially worried about the little dear across the table who was writing about a character so evil he was receiving instructions directly from Satan, but who nonetheless cursed the do-gooders who were trying to thwart his nefarious plots by calling them "jerks". Anyone who thinks "jerk" is the kind of curse a minion of the Prince of Darkness would use is pretty much writing to a different audience than I am.
So next year I'm going to look into attending the "Selling Your Soul to Lucifer Literary Conference*", in the hopes that it will be a better fit. If nothing else, I bet those guys get a lot more writing contracts.
*Not a real conference. I checked.
I learned that writing is hard. Hard, hard, hard. Whoa, Nelly, is this business ever tough! Tough and hard and also difficult. And don't even get me started on the whole "getting published" side of things. Holy bat snot, Robin, getting published is extremely ... what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yes. Hard.
This was essentially the message of many of the presenters at the conference. I think they were trying to discourage the competition. And it worked; I saw several of the attendees running their manuscripts through the giant courtesy shredder in the lobby. A few of the more desperate writers were flinging themselves into the shredder, hollering "I hate you mean old jerks!" as they went in. It's terribly sad to hear folks resorting to that kind of language in their final moments.
Another thing I learned is that it is uber cool to be a blogger. Every time I got to the table after our breakout sessions, there were more people there, all wanting to sit with us. At least, I assume they wanted to hang with me, too. I was always the last one to arrive. It meant I had to sit on Melanie's lap and re-introduce myself to everyone, but I'm still convinced my presence at the cool table was the reason those other groupies were already there actively not knowing or caring who I was.
And guess what? I got recognized! And not just by people I owe money to! Nice people who knew me from blogland and wanted to say "hi" and "I read your blog" and "have you ever heard of thesaurus.com?" Yeah, it was hard to stay humble.
There were disappointments, like when I lost the Chapter One contest for the Young Adult Fantasy Romance Fiction genre, which if I'm not mistaken was the genre for every single person at the conference. Seriously, even the waiters were chasing down the agents, begging them to take a look at their Young Adult Fantasy Romance Fiction manuscripts. So when the first chapter of my book, "The Robot Kissing Crystal Vampire of Zarahemla" was passed over for consideration, I consoled myself with the reminder that there were a lot of entrants.
All told, it was great to be there, hanging with people I've already come to love even though it was the first chance I'd had to actually throw my arms around them in person! (Kim and Laura and Becca and RE-becca and Stacy, I'm looking at you beautiful girls!) I figured out some stuff about my writing and my priorities and where I want to go from here. I ate circus animal cookies (courtesy of Melanie!), and laughed so hard with Debbie over naughty snarky secret comments that pink frosting came out my nose, and took a gazillion notes on my exceptionally cute Asus Eee netbook, and generally had a terrific weekend.
And now, it's grindstone time. There is a ton of writing I need to do to get on top of this manuscript once and for all. I have all sorts of ideas about how to make my story completely awesome and entertaining and totally marketable. But I won't lie to you: it's gonna be tough.
Especially since I ran it through that shredder.