Fresh off the Chicago Writers Conference, I find myself more anxious than ever to take this writing thing to the next level.
I appreciate the little tidbits of information I picked up in every talk and panel. Okay, maybe I took 36 pages of tidbits, but they were helpful.
I'm pretty much the dork in the front row, dutifully taking notes, which I rewrite later to burn them into my brain. I start to google websites, books, authors, tips on my iPad as the speaker mentions them and I start to think how I can use their advice in my own novel.
Needless to say, there will be some revision, some tweaking, perhaps some major changes in what I've written on my current work-in-progress.
I was happy (sad) to learn most of the published writers I met still have a regular day job.
Don't get me wrong, I love my job, the people I work with and my environment in the ivory tower in pretty sweet. I'm very fortunate to get paid to have fun...but, that said, I'd give it all up to write full time. It's hard to work a full day then come home and work again. Most writers I imagine would say the same thing. And most probably hope to have the same success stories as the folks in this episode of CBS Sunday Morning: Authors exercise their "write" to self-publish.
A panel called Meet the Publishers actually encouraged writers to take things into their own hands. Know that even if you get a book deal, as an unknown writer you still do a lot of leg work when it comes to marketing yourself. It's important to have a platform - that means you have a website, you're burning up the social media outlets, you read at live events, you belong to groups, you join organizations. A New York publisher is going to use their budgets to market the big names, not little old you. The article "An argument for writers taking charge" by Johnny Temple (who helped form the early 90's band Girls Against Boys, wow) talks about how it's a tough world out there and more writers are finding other ways to get their words out.
More and more I find myself learning toward self-publishing. My goal is mainly to get the book out there and start revising the next one (yes, I have quite the catalog already started, I can even visualize my Amazon page). It's a lot of work, you basically handle each and every aspect start to finish. It's like being a party planner, which is basically a skill I've honed over the years. And for the impatient (me), you can get your book out there and maybe, just maybe, a big house will buy it.
Perhaps my favorite discussion this weekend, since I am in the romance genre, was about sex in writing. I particularly liked that this was not a 50 Shades of Grey how-to but a look at how sex is used in a story. I accept that 50 Shades was a phenomenon but it wasn't based on good writing or good sex, it was like a viral video that everyone had to see to believe. And I have said before, I commend the author for creating something that attracted so much attention but I want to smack the consumers for falling for it. There are so many books out there that are hotter (and better written!). I feel like we've taken two steps forward and one step back as a society based on what we call entertainment these days.
I watched the Emmy's last week and there is no doubt that we have some brilliant TV viewing choices out there and yet I still see these laugh-tracked or reality-based or formula-driven brainless shows that all look the same and think it's time we just pull the plug. It's the same in the literary world.
Now, I'm not saying anything I write is the Iliad or Great Expectations or even Gone Girl. But I put thought into what I write, I don't look for the easy way out and admittedly, I am still learning how to create a story.
And finally, I had the pleasure of hearing Rick Kogan speak at the Closing Keynote. He spoke about Chicago with such grace and understanding, it brought a tear to my eye. He reinforced the fact that Chicago is a great city for writers. He weaved a story, albeit a true one, and I all I could do was sit there, mouth hanging open, mesmerized by his words and his delivery.
I was so captivated by his time at the podium I didn't take one...damn...note.
Way to go Chicago Writer Conference!