This year’s San Francisco Writers Conference has had to have been the best one ever!
I know, I know. So how bad could it be? It’s in San Francisco, my favorite place on the planet, full of things to do and perfect weather and food to die for. It’s at the Mark Hopkins, which is swank city. The bedding is like sleeping on a cloud, and the soaps and shampoos make you feel rich and pampered. And the conference food isn’t half bad! At the conference, you’re surrounded by writers and agents and editors and people with the knowledge you don’t have, and the enthusiasm is contagious. This conference rolls around just when I need it – a welcome break from the rigors of a Michigan winter. (I like sunshine and flowers, in case you haven’t noticed.) This was my eighth conference, and needless to say, I am never bored. Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada round up the best people for their workshops, and it’s so hard to choose one presentation over the other.
This year I concentrated on workshops going over the business of writing, especially dealing with copyrights and self-publishing. I learned so much from attorney Helen Sedwick, who was extremely nice. I also joined the Independent Book Publishers Association after attending their seminar. It’s not expensive, and the information is voluminous. I’m also considering a run at non-fiction publishing – it depends on when I can find some spare time to dive into it.
I tell this to every writer I know: Go to a writers conference! I can only afford to go to one a year, and this is the one for me. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, you might think you don’t have any time for it, but trust me. You will learn so much, so worth whatever it costs in money. You’ll get out of your garret for one weekend and make friends and compare notes. You’ll be energized by the positive buzz and leave ready to write again. (I did.)
Warning: Personal Horn Tooting Approaching
I usually submit something for the writing contest SFWC holds, usually the first few pages of my work in progress. (Finding Cadence was a finalist one year!) This year, however, I was woefully lacking in new material. I hadn’t really written anything new since May of last year, thanks to personal issues and a bad case of writer’s block (and probably being depressed, let’s not forget that). Over the winter, I began the process of putting my poetry into digital form. There’s a lot of it, and I can’t trust yellow typewritten pages in a raggedy notebook much longer. A notebook that sat in my basement for ten years while I wondered where the hell it was because it was jammed in a box of my daughter’s things and why would I look in there?
So I picked out a poem that was dear to my heart (one about my parents), typed it up, and entered the poetry section of the contest a few days before the deadline in January. Then I forgot about it.
Fast forward to my trip to San Francisco in mid-February. I’m waiting in Dallas for my connecting flight and decide to check out the SFWC website. Where I see my poem had been named as a finalist!
Obviously, I was thrilled, just as thrilled as when my novel had placed. But…I’m a realist. I never win anything. (I dragged my husband to a slot machine I was playing, and HE wins the Harley.) I’m always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
Imagine my surprise and wonder when my name was announced as the winner!
One hundred dollars! And a rush of pride!
Here’s the photo of all the winners:
And one of me and Laurie McLean at the party later that night:
(Photos courtesy Artstudio23.com)
I’m explaining to her that I wrote my poem in 1977 and I hoped that was okay that I recycled it. 🙂 Which goes to show you that good writing never goes bad. (Find my prize winning poem HERE.)
After the conference, I spent a week with my son. We ate like pigs and walked many beaches in search of the elusive beach glass. In the end, we went back to Muir Beach and spent 2 1/2 hours bending over and picking up a bounty of glass as the tide was going out.
Now I’m back to work, writing a new novel in a class with Michelle Richmond.
And I feel GREAT! I’ve gotten my mojo back! It’s going to be a wonderful year to write.