Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't Stop Believing

This upcoming Saturday I will journey to Connecticut to attend the Unicorn Writer's Conference. I went last year and it became my favorite conference of all. I've gone to many, including the yearly event hosted by my local branch of the SCBWI in Poughkeepsie. Since I decided to become a serious writer and paid attention to the voices of characters inside my head and snippets of their stories which unravel in my mind like scenes from movies, I have made it a priority to immerse myself in the writing world. 

The main building at Silver Bay of the YMCA.
A good portion of this world involves classes, workshops and conferences. My first year of "being a writer" I joined and went to the local SCBWI conference, one function I now attend annually. That year I was accepted to Falling Leaves, a weekend writers retreat held up in the eternally beautiful Silver Bay in Lake George, NY. What a wonderful environment to hold a get together of incredible writers, authors and editors. My blurb recalling the amazing time I had appears on the Eastern New York SCBWI website here.

My comment was this: 
"I am so glad to be a SCBWI member and was doubly honored to attend this special weekend. My critique group floored me with the quality and variety of their writings. I will never forget Saturday morning's critique session. The hours flew by and we left so charged, it did feel 'magical.' I was amazed at the quality of the writing I heard read out loud by each writer. I am usually a nervous public speaker, but I wasn't that morning. The editors were so informative, approachable, and nice to talk with. I enjoyed their sessions and learned a lot about publishing and our craft. All of my time spent at Lake George felt special. The memories created at Silver Bay will always be cherished by this writer."
And yes, I may sound like a fangirl and I was. That weekend opened my eyes and showed me exactly what I needed to be shown: I needed to learn more and work harder.

A partial view of Silver Bay in November.
Since then I have been trying/working/writing. I write more, I'm more in-tuned to how and what I put down, and I keep attending. I attended the Where Do I Go From Here? workshop hosted by 3 Literary Agents in 2009. What an array of writers at this one day event held in Manhattan! Again, I learned a lot and I heard from one editor that my manuscript, Everlast, had "heart." 

The year before I attended my first Marist College's Summer Writer's Institute where I was complimented on my contemporary WIP, Borderline, and told it was an incredible YA read (I had sent 20 pages). That was nice to hear. I enjoyed the learning environment there I went back for two more summers. 

Lat year I took a huge step and submitted three pages to the One-on-One Conference held on the campus of Rutgers College. I was accepted and, again, picked up important pointers from an agent. I was also accepted back to the Falling Leaves Writer's Retreat and happily went. The advice I received was tremendous and I applied most of it in my other WIP, Slow Burn. I will say being told I had 'some imagination' was taken as a compliment. I also had the wonderful experience of meeting and attending author Eileen Charbonneau's Writing Fiction workshop held at the Merritt Bookstore in Millerton. Not only is Ms. Charbonneau a warm and engaging person, her advice was incredibly helpful coming from such an accomplished author as she is. Sitting in a room with eight other writers on a beautiful July day was enriching. She taught me new ways of approaching my fiction writing and I met so many wonderful people (thanks Susan!) I was glad I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Cahrbonneau and hear her speak at the Millerton Book Fair last year. That one day event held many exciting and wonderful chances to hear from and learn from published authors. Listening to author Jennifer Donnelly speak at a YA authors panel immediately made me want to pick up her latest YA novel, Revolution, which I did when it went out on a book tour. I was impressed and loved her main character's voice and story.

Back to the journey. My journey. In high school my favorite band was Journey. In their anthemic song, "Don't Stop Believin'" the chorus says to "hold on to the feeling" and in a way, I have. Since I was a kid, enamored with books and their stories, I have held on to my dream of writing. And maybe, one day, I will have achieved at least one of those dreams. Until then, I will attend the conferences I like going to and keep believing. And I will definitely create a post about my latest conference experience.

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