Sunday, October 26, 2008

Post-conference tips and musings

The Surrey International Writing Conference is all over for another year.

A flare up of arthritis in my back left me wincing my way through this weekend's conference. Hard to sit still for long. Or stand. But thanks to the energizing company of new friends and old, lots of new writing-related insights, one sudden flash of a new idea, and a couple of good long soaks in the hotel hot tub, I made it home by mid-afternoon Sunday, primed to start writing...

But then life intervened. As it does for so many of us who head home planning to hit the ground writing.

Here are a few post-conference tips that might help you make the most of what just passed, and what might be ahead of you.
  1. Before you forget what you heard and can no longer decipher all those notes you took, read through them within the next day or so. Then either type them up, or at least fill in all gaps and rewrite the worst of your scribbles. If you put your notes away untended, you'll have forgotten what you planned to do with them, and if you do go back to them later, they may well seem to be in a totally alien language!
  2. Even if you're not quite ready to mail in that work that you pitched to an editor or agent, if they invited you to submit, drop them a quick note soon to thank them for their time, and give them an idea of when they can expect to receive your submission.
  3. If you were invited to submit, and you think the work is ready, ship it off to one kind reader who will lend their eagle eye, either as copy editor or just general critiquer. Ask them for any pointers on what you still need to do. Then DO IT. And send it off.
  4. Remember to mention in your subject line that you met them at the SiWC so your query rises to the top of the heap of all the other emails they will receive that day.
  5. If you have legible workshop notes that can easily be transcribed, type them up and forward a copy to at least two other writers who you think might benefit from the information.
  6. If you picked up copies of books to take home, take the time to read them soon. And if they were written by someone you met at the conference, drop them a note to let them know how you enjoyed their work.
  7. Check back onto the SiWC site to see what people are saying about the conference, and add your comments.
  8. Mark your calendars now for the 2009 conference - October 23-25.
  9. Share with your writing group or your peers, one significant goal you hope to achieve between now and next year's conference.
    Make sure it's: Measurable (better to say that you want to have written 365 pages between now and then, than that you want to write 'more often'); Achievable (perhaps that you want to 'submit to five publishers' rather than 'get one book accepted' - something over which you have no direct control); Realistic (many of us come away so fired up, that if we do any goal setting too soon, it's driven by enthusiasm, as in "I'm going to write for two hours every day, six days a week", when perhaps the goal of writing for five hours a week might be more realistic, and an improvement over your recent record of writing five hours a month.

It was great to have the chance to say hello in passing to so many old friends; I enjoyed spending time over meals with new ones; I benefited from lots of useful and practical input from a variety of energetic and enthusiastic presenters; I was grateful and humbled to receive such an enthusiastic response to Meeting Miss 405 which translated into good sales at the Chapters table; I was thrilled to see my virtual writing buddy Hèlène Boudreau be recognized with an Honorable Mention for her entry in the Writing for Young Readers category of the conference contest (HB is the author of the recently published Arcadian Star); I was moved and honoured to read the work of writers who submitted their work to the nonfiction category of the contest; and I was grateful to share my trade table with Julie Ferguson who did such a great job of minding the shop while I flitted thither and yon to attend workshops and appointments.

To everyone I shared the weekend with in one way or the other - thanks. All the best for your endeavors in the next year. I look forward to meeting you again.


Julie H. Ferguson said...

Thank you for the honourable mention. Sharing the table with you was a pleasure and fun, to boot.

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