Tuesday, August 16, 2011

RWA Conference 2011 - epiphanies and decisions

I'm back from 3 wonderful days of workshops, panels and socialising at the Romance Writers of Australia 20th Conference in Melbourne.  (Plus an extra day of meetings since I'm now on the executive committee.)

What can I say??!!  It was everything I expected and more.  It was exhausting and exhilerating at the same time.  It was also very noisy when 350 women were together - especially when alcohol was involved :)

It will take me some time to even start to process all of the craft information I learnt, but the immediate benefit for me was the motivation.  It's really sunk in that I need to get serious about this - if I want to get published (and I do - I'm now coveting a blue First Sale ribbon!), I need to start treating it like a job, not a hobby.  I need to write regularly, not wait until I'm in the mood. 

I AM A WRITER (I've practiced saying that thanks to Lisa Heidke's workshop).  If I'm not treating it seriously, why should anyone else?  I need to protect my writing time.

Bob Mayer's full day 'Write it Forward' workshop on the Friday was full of gems.  In fact, it was my first epiphany of the weekend.  He showed a clip of the Johnny Cash movie Walk the Line where Cash is being  auditioned and the agent questions his committment to the song he's singing.  The thing that struck me was the section where the agent essentially said - if you were hit by a bus and you only had time to sing one song, would this be the one you would choose? 

Bob drew the analogy - are you committed to this book?  Is this your passion?  If you only could write one book, would this be it?  You can read more on Bob's take of it here.  Lightbulb moment for me.  No, its not.  I'm trying to write a category romance, and I'm more interested in the relationship between the heroine and her estranged mother.  I much prefer women's fiction for its exploration of family and relationships, as well as a romance. 

So that was easy... But then I couldn't decide whether I should finish the category just for the sake of finishing something, or write what I want to write.  So after lots of soul-searching and sleepless nights (although that was largely the result of the amount of caffeine I was drinking!), I've decided to go back to the women's fiction I started writing 12 months ago.  In actual fact, I think I might even be able to use the character from the sweet in the women's fiction, so best of both worlds :)

The other thing that sticks in my mind was the number of presenters saying it wasn't so much talent that was the important thing - it was perserverance and grit.  Bob Mayer spoke about how grit was the difference between failure and success in many areas of life, I think it was Melanie Milburne (who won the Romantic Book of the Year, Short Sweet category) said that she wasn't so much talented as persistant, and Jane Porter in her closing address spoke about how she wrote, submitted and was rejected for seventeen years before she sold her first book.

I'll probably have far more to say on the conference as I start to catch up on sleep and wrap my head around everything that was said. 

If you went to the conference, was there a 'main thing' you took out of it?


Butterfly said...

That's awesome! Knowing where you REALLY want to be will fuel the persistence and grit you need to get there. If you brought nothing else home, that in itself would be worth the time and money you invested ... sounds like there were a lot of other gems though. I like Bob Mayer's idea.

Just wondering, if it's not too rude to ask ... is your family supportive of you being a writer? Or do you have to remind them that you're serious about this?

Kez said...

Hey Butterfly - not rude at all to ask. Yes, they're very supportive. My problem is within myself. Its hard to give myself permission to spend the time on it without feeling guilty of the other 1001 things I should be doing. Its a lot of time to invest with limited financial payback!

So I think if I treat it seriously and set aside time to work on it, they will respect that.

Libby said...

Glad you had a great time at the conference. Sometimes I miss writing but I guess that's what I've got my blog for. I definitely don't have the discipline or drive to "write" any more. I understand totally about the guilt thing but if you're passionate about being "a writer" than you need to do what needs to be done. Even if you consider this an apprenticeship or training until you're published.

jugglingpaynes said...

I'm glad you got so much out of the conference. I know it was...nourishing for me to go to a science fiction/fantasy writers' convention, as well as a small comic book convention that had a great workshop on publishing.

My own opinion, I won't stick with something I'm not committed to. It's good that you can use characters from your romance project, but if it isn't where you want to be, it's good you went back to the women's fiction piece.

Peace and Laughter,