Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Write Here: An Albany Writer's Conference

Last Saturday, I attended the Write Here! conference at The Arts Center. Attending these events always sparks crazy creativity. I was disappointed in myself for not bringing my laptop - all I wanted to do while I was there was write. There's just something about being around local talent that makes you want to just jump right in and start - start writing, start creating.

The sessions were great - advice from writers and teachers that was absolutely invaluable. In this post, I hope to share the knowledge I learned from the sessions I attended, as well as point you guys to several different resources and local writers.

Session 1 - Submittors & Rejectors
Panelists: Daniel Nestor, David Holub, Nancy White, Rob Arnold, Matthew Klane, Chloe Caldwell, Benjamin Harris

This session was primarily about the several different literary journals and small presses that you can submit to as an author.

  • Editors are looking for reasons to reject a piece. Let's face it, there's so much work out there. I know that, in my own work as a Reader, or even for what I do within educational publishing - if you've submitted something unpolished, or that didn't follow my directions - I won't bother to follow up with you. There are too many other writers who are willing to take the time to do it right. 
  • On that note, make sure you look at the guidelines set forth by journals, small presses, publishing houses, and/or agents. 
  • Same note - make sure you know the specialty of what you're submitting to. Even with agents - some agents focus on specific genres. One of the gentleman on the panel today runs a Literary Humor journal and he actually said that sometimes he'll receive pieces that definitely aren't humor. 
Kuglemass - A journal of literary humor
The Word Works - a small press
flim forum press - another small press
Duotrope - allows you to track submissions and search for literary journals that are within your own genre. 
Submittable - another submissions manager.
Thoughtsmith - an online literary journal

Session 2 - The Writing Life
Panelists: Amy Halloran, Elaine Handley, Robyn Ringler, David Goldschmidt, Dan Wilcox

I found I got a lot more out of this session than the first. The panelists discussed their writing routines, sources of inspiration, revision process, and their thoughts on writing groups. 

Writing Routines: The processes varied for each panelist, which was actually pretty relieving. I thought I was going to be told - wake up early and write! But, one of the panelists actually admitted to the fact that he hasn't written a word in two months, because it just hasn't been there for him. One panelist had this to say though, and I thought it was good advice: 
"Show up at the page." 
That's it. Just show up there. Make a date and show up. 

  • Look for it in anything out there in the world. Anything. Politics, nature, love. Anything. 
  • Read a lot of books, all different kinds. It's a great way to expand your mind, but also a great way to get to know your market. 
  • Life events. Be it memoir or fiction - the next action your character takes could form around something that happened in your life.
  • Read out loud. If you stumble over a line, your readers are going to as well. 
  • Leave something and then come back to it later. Allows you to actually be the reader. 
  • Write fast! Get it all out before you stop to revise.
  • Use different colored highlighters to highlight the senses. This is something I've never thought of before, but was such a cool suggestion. Assign a color to each sense and highlight as you go. If you see a lot of one color, maybe it's time to go back and insert some touch or smell to the descriptions in your work to bring it to life a bit more. 
Writing Groups: 
  • One of the panelists doesn't like writing groups. Instead, he likes to attend events because he's more interested in the people in this community. 
  • When in a writing group - look for consensus. 
  • Even when looking for consensus, remember that YOU are the author. 
  • Choose the right people who can give you positive, but also honest, feedback. 
  • Try to remain non-competitive with the group members. 
The Synonym Finder / Family Word Finder: A New Thesaurus of Synonyms and Antonyms in Dictionary Form - both are apparently better sources than your normal thesaurus.
Hudson Valley Writer's Guild - along with a lot of great resources, you can easily search for or start your own writing group (if you're in the area)
From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction - this book was referenced pretty often by all of the panelists. It's about writing from dreams and/or finding that dreamlike state when writing.

Also, a great quote from this session:
"Beware of advice, even this." John Steinbeck
Session 4 - Social Networking for Writers*
Presenter: Carolee Sherwood

An awesome quote from this presentation:
"Many of us became writers because we were silenced in some way, and the written self on the page speaks more authentically than we do as individuals." Polly Clark
  • Find someone doing something well that you'd like to emulate. 
  • Use some commonly searched words for your blog genre either withing the title or the first few lines of your post to increase searchability. 
  •  Don't violate blog manners and etiquette. 
Klout - a way to measure your own influence on social media. 
The Writers Network - for connecting with writing assignments and other writers. 
Inked-In - like LinkedIn for writers. 
Editorial Freelancer's Association - for job listings. 
Winning Writers - resources for writers and poets

There were so many local writers represented here, but these are the books that really caught my eye. I either purchased these, or will purchase them in the future. 

Lump: 19 Monologues from a 27-Year-Old Breast Cancer Survivor, by Leena Luther - I started this while I was in between sessions, and it's wonderful. I should have a review up by the end of the week.
What Time Do the Crocodiles Come Out? A Travel Memoir of Mexico, by Kathe Kokolias
How to Be Inappropriate, by Daniel Nestor - the cover for this is hilarious and it just seems so good!
The Death of Pringle, by Justin Katko - about a pringle that comes to life, I think he does some singing, before he meets his untimely end in someone's stomach. 

*Yes - I skipped Session Three because it was all to do with poetry, and I don't really like that stuff. 

1 comment:

  1. This type conference always give a lot of creativity and innovative thoughts for writing. This is always great to attend this type of conference. Thanks for sharing.


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