“The writing profession is reeking with this loneliness. All our lives we spend in discoursing with ourselves. . . .”
~ quoted by Fred Hobson in Mencken: A Life, Random House, 1994
Today was the second day of WIFYR workshop. Other than missing my exit because I was thinking of a better lead for a new story thus making me late, the day has been an improvement over the first one. Okay, I knew this going in, but writing is NO LONGER a lonely affair. I kinda wish it was because I could live in a world where I don’t know there are SO MANY aspiring authors! Nor would I know how GOOD those writers are. Nevertheless, what I am gaining from all the experts and NON-experts, I could NOT teach myself.
Let me tell you that this workshop is organized-PLUS; thus maximizing opportunities to learn. The day is set up like this:
- Mornings: Work with Cheri Pray Earl and Rick Walton, two published authors and writing instructors at Brigham Young University and 20 peers who crack me up! (That’s because Cheri and Rick introduced us to SASS that first day!)
- Plenary Presenters – Authors, editors, agents share tips and ideas. SO helpful! (By the way, PLENARY was a new word to me. I think it is a very cool word. It means, “fully attended or constituted by all entitled to be present.”)
- Break-out sessions – Participants choose an author, editor, or agents or a panel of these folks who address various topics, concerns, and questions. Very informative.
While I knew this workshop provided support for writers, I am still amazed at the amount of sharing, consulting, suggesting, listening, encouraging, inspiring, informing that takes place. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I know authors buddied up in days gone by, but I think that was AFTER writers published. I picture Hemingway partying in Paris with Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald or Carl Sandburg talking shop with Theodore Dreiser and Sherwood Anderson. But who did they brainstorm ideas with BEFORE their break? Who did they chat with when their plot lines flat-lined or their characters refused to develop? Maybe there were friends who provided what Hemingway or Fitzgerald needed over drinks, but I’m not sure that turned out in the long run.
Water was the only beverage we received at this confab. That only happened on the first day, and it was a mistake. So no potential authors need worry about ruining their lives because of booze provided by Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers Workshop. I know some were concerned when the conference moved from Brigham Young University to Salt Lake County, but don’t stress; it’s still a dry environment.
Putting my drinking concerns aside, I found that one of the most helpful AND scary activities is “work-shopping” participants’ writing. We read our papers while peers followed along. Next, writers listened to praise AND suggestions. It was all professional – civil even, and yet, my stomach clinched tighter and tighter as I watched my golden rod paper work its way to the top. Nervous as I was, I appreciated the feedback and think the suggestions strengthened my paper.
I was also inspired by reading the works of my fellow writers. WoW! What fine writing! Compelling and creative ideas that were fun to read. I also gleaned ideas from my colleagues’ comments to all the writers in the group. Sometimes a suggestion given to Amy or Jared applied to my work as well. I can’t tell you how beneficial this has been for me, and I want to soak up EVERY hint, idea, tip, suggestion,and critique I can. I really want to do this thing!