The conference began with a bit of a twist. I attended one of the optional master classes offered before the conference, and the timing happened to coincide with the Surrey Economic Conference, at which both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were slated to speak. The security was consequently, nutty.
I walked up to the hotel, dressed up in stereotypical scruffy writer wear: jeans, canvas jacket… and had to thread my way through a crowd of people in slick black suits. You could tell who was there for the writer’s conference at a quick glance. I went through 4 police checks, and had to produce conference receipts, and ID. I also almost got run over by a police dog, when looking for the parkade entrance. However, most people, police included, had a good sense of humor about it.
The workshop on Details by Diana Gabaldon more than made up for the extra trouble. She’s an excellent teacher, with a sharp sense of humor, had us laughing through the three hour class. Good points were interspersed with examples from writing, on how to incorporate details unobtrusively, how to add resonance and other details, and how to add your personal experience to the writing.
I realized, however, one of the perils of having a parent that is a writer. There were a few stories she shared, including one hilarious incident involving testicles and her then two year old son (who is now a writer and was also in attendance).
This year I did not attend the full conference. I wondered if it would be worth it, and you know what? It was worth it. There’s only so much you can learn on your own, and it was like a jump start to my brain after being hunkered down in the novel slog for so long. I left considering different techniques and approaches to writing that I’m keen to try out. The individual conference workshops varied. I attended two on historical fiction, but one of the highlights was Ivan Coyote’s bootcamp for procrastinators. She destroyed most of the writing excuses we could come up with, graciously, and with humor.
It’s something amazing to be surrounded by 300+ people who are just as passionate as you are about writing. My writing reserves are all recharged. I met a few wonderful people in that one day, and if we can scrounge up a few more people, perhaps we can start up a local fantasy writer’s group. At the very least I’ll have one more person to swap critiques with. I also tried my hand at pitching again. It went well, even though I stumbled a bit. Looking for pitch tips? Here’s what I could have done better.
So all in all, it was another great conference. If you can invest a little in learning, it is worth it and it goes a long way. I’m looking forward to next year.
And here’s a link to a review of the Candle in the Attic Window Anthology via Shock Totem. I was thrilled to see that Nine Nights had been mentioned:
Nine Nights, by T.S. Bazelli
This is probably the creepiest story in the entire collection, and the one that is most likely to haunt your mind afterwards, leaving you disturbed and disquieted. A young girl is present at the funeral of her cousin, only to find her body being invaded by her cousin’s spirit. Gradually a secret of the family is revealed and black magic leaves two souls fighting for a single body. The ending in particular is terrible and well-written.
Damn, that’s a better description of the short story than I managed to cobble together. It made my day 😉 It’s also worth checking out the link above to see reviews of the rest of the anthology.
Have you ever been to a writer’s conference, and what was your experience like?