So I’ve been meaning to write this post for the last three days, and I’ve had problems pulling it all together. I don’t know if it’s work, or having to cook for myself again, but my writer-brain keeps trying to take another week off.
Last week was our second journey to Mexico (Riviera Maya), and we enjoyed it just as much as our stay last year. My stomach didn’t act up this time, so I got to enjoy more food. It was sunny and 80+ the whole week. The only speck of rain came at the start of our romantic dinner on the beach, which then became a romantic dinner in a nearby resort restaurant that just happened to be closed for the night. We caught the sunrise on the morning before we left, and then went on a hunt for coatis.
Of the (miniscule) disappointments:
- We didn’t get to go kayaking, due to rough and choppy waves the whole week.
- We were very nearly run over by a bus on the way to the resort. It’s one thing to have road rage in the States, and entirely another to see a giant charter-type bus beside of your van, that doesn’t want to let you over, and is literally close enough to touch through your window.
The trip back was much less exciting, I promise. And for the more noteworthy recap…
I woke up on Saturday morning nervous as hell, and not sure what to expect. In retrospect I shouldn’t have been worried, or stressed. It really is a gathering of wonderfully talented, exceptionally kind people.
The day was chock full of panels, workshops, and classes, covering a wide range of topics. I went to the author/agent panel first. Even though I’m nowhere close to querying agents, I think it had the best non-craft related pieces of advice that I heard over the whole weekend (I’ll get back to that later). Next came Tex Thompson’s dialect class, which was totally not what I had expected (in a good way). She’s got so much enthusiasm for what she’s doing and what she’s teaching, you can’t help but be gung-ho about fixing your own stuff.
At lunch I stuffed my face with fajitas, and networked a little. Jonathan Mayberry gave an insightful and inspiring keynote. After the lunch hour ended, I headed straight for Donald Maass’s class on setting. It was packed, and for good reason. I certainly came away feeling like I could make my setting do more for the story than what it currently is.
Skipping past an hour-ish wait and then my consultation, the last class for me of the day was about writing a great query. Yes, I have a knack for putting the cart before the horse. By that time in the day, though, I just wanted to go home and take a three-hour long nap. I didn’t, though, because I needed to eat dinner and head back out for the Gong Show. The aforementioned event is a neat concept, and fun to watch. A panel of judges (agents/editors) listen as anonymous queries are read aloud. If they hear anything that would normally make them stop reading or reject the query, they hit the gong. At three gongs, the reading is stopped, and the judges explain why they have rejected the query. It’s exciting, wondering when or if they’ll sound the gong. But it’s also informative, and gives a good idea of what agents are looking for in a query. Sometimes it’s a language issue of the query itself, and at others it was simply the story idea. Two queries made it through the test, one having received no gongs at all. One of the best things, though? Everyone in the audience applauded the query authors. Community love = warm fuzzies.
I bowed out after the Gong Show ended instead of networking. In addition to feeling exhausted, I was not exactly in the best headspace. I felt better when I got back to DFWCon in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Highlights of the day included Tex’s prose class, Maass’s micro-tension, making our own “Fantasy” table for lunch, Amanda Rutter talking with us at lunch, and listening to Jennie Goloboy talk about killing characters with disease. Maass closed the conference with a prediction on how publishing is going to change in the next few years. He also left us with this thought – how will your writing change the world?
Long story short, DFWCon is more than I hoped it would be. I’m excited for DFWCon 2015, and am going to work to make my writing ready for it.
Now if we back up a bit, remember when I talked about the best non-craft advice that I heard over the whole weekend? Well, sorry to keep you waiting. Here it is:
Make sure your response is not from an emotional place.
I’ll just leave that to stew for a few days. And to all my fellow writers – I hope to see you at DFWCon next year!