Word on the Lake was, once again, fantastic. I came home with my head stuffed with info, my feet hovering about two inches off the ground with the sheer buoyancy of inspiration.
Here are a few snippets, visual, inspirational or educational (the latter paraphrased in my own words from what stuck with me):
Ian Weir (screenwriter and novelist): “Give yourself permission to write. A lawyer goes to school for about nine years – a writer should be allowed the same time to learn their craft.”
Gail Anderson-Dargatz (novelist, teacher, mentor):
“Being a literary writer is like being a concert pianist. It takes the same level of training, and practice – and practice…”
“Write crap.” (i.e. get the first crappy draft on the page, then go back and work it over)
“Most writers share character traits of being odd, anxious, fearful, observant, introverted…” (There was a huge long list on the whiteboard. I almost cried with relief at hearing that I’m not alone.) “Don’t let your fears hold back your character on the page.”
Jacqueline Guest (teacher, writer of historic novels for young adults): “If it’s character-driven, what’s driving the character?”
There was story after story of the presenters’ own lives, which was probably more inspiring than anything else. This was, after all, a writer’s conference – probably the most interesting group of people to listen or talk to you could imagine. It didn’t matter where you were – in a workshop, at lunch, chatting between sessions – at the slightest provocation people drop into telling stories. And they tell them well – boredom is not one of the invited guests at a writers’ gathering.
I came away encouraged, inspired, and energized (as well as exhausted – it’s that introvert thing, which meant that even a day later I needed a really long nap just to recuperate some of my energies). My mind was expanded, and so was my network – I reconnected with friends from previous years, made new friends, found new mentors to follow and learn from…
I can’t wait for next year’s conference. But meanwhile, I have some writing to do!
Life, the Universe, and Snippets from a Conference. See you there in 2019?