Sunday, October 4, 2009

Central Coast Writers' Conference

I went to my very first writing conference on Friday and Saturday at Cuesta College which is near my home. A big plus for being close by, and I went to school there for my nursing degree. I didn't know anyone, but I met lots of nice folks and actually learned something. I tend to be optimistic, so even if something was not stellar, I was easily able to overlook it because most of the offerings were better than I hoped.

I got tons of insight in the dialog workshop by Kirsten Menger-Anderson who wrote a fabulous collection of short stories called Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain. More on that in another post (but I highly recommend it). Dialog kills me sometimes. I think it is critical to do it well, better than well. She had us do a short writing exercise, with dialog of course, and then asked a few to read theirs out loud. I discovered that I was a chicken.

I'm rarely a chicken, so dialog must still be the thing I think I do least well. Funny thing though, I didn't really think anyone who read theirs aloud was significantly better than mine. So, if I'm not intimidated, why the hesitation? Maybe because I'm new in the environment and don't want to come across like a know-it-all (at this point my Dad would spit his teeth across the room, because I never hesitated to be a know-it-all before), or perhaps I am still unsure of my place in this part of the writing world.

The other workshop that I found very valuable was Point of Narration vs Point of View taught by Charlotte Cook. She is a publisher and a writer and is exceedingly comfortable and capable in front of and interacting with an audience. She gave some tangible examples of what to consider when making the choices inherent in writing that transcended her immediate subject matter. Thank you Charlotte.

The other bright spot was hooking up with a few writers who plan on doing NaNoWriMo in November. NaNo stands for National Novel Writing Month (November) and the title plus .org will find you at a website that sponsors the "contest." I say "contest" with the quotes because you are in a contest with yourself to produce 50,000 words of a novel. If you do that, you win. It's going to be nice to have friends in the same wicked boat.

Tomorrow, I'll post my personal NaNo goals and tell you a little about the book I'm planning.
All I know is that I am glad I got my feet wet at a smaller conference. I discovered that I like them and that they are worthwhile. The folks that put it on did a lot of work, and they seemed rather likable. So, I recommend it.

Jo Taylor

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