For those of you who write or read or do anything with words, going to a conference is a fantastic idea. This year’s Unicorn Writer’s Conference took place at St. Clement’s Castle. The conference started at 7:30 and, of course, I was running late. I had visions of me tumbling into the middle of the Keynote speaker’s address making an absolute fool of myself. When I pulled in I kept telling myself At least I’m not the last one. There was no need for me to be stressed out. The people who planned the event knew who they were planning for. The speaker didn’t speak until 8:30. I had plenty of time to make small talk with other writers and eat a delicious breakfast. The rest of the day was pretty much the same. This conference was well executed and although it was sold out it never felt like there was too much of a crowd.
Breakfast ran from 7:30 to 8:30 and then the keynote speaker: Andrew Gross spoke about how even the most unlikely of people can become a writer. Listening to him speak and seeing other participants nod their heads in agreement helped me realize that no matter what walk of life you are in there are others who are just like you.
After the Keynote speaker I went to the first of several workshops. I went to Elaine Cunningham’s beyond elves and dragons, where again, I was pleasantly surprised by how cozy the atmosphere of the conference felt. Ms. Cunningham knows writers well and what she said affirmed what I was thinking. When writing fantasy the world is a character in and of itself.
After that I went to the editor’s panel; it was helpful listening to them explain what they look for when deciding which books to buy. The biggest chunk of information I gleaned from them was that finding the best agent for your book is important.
Lunch was another delicious meal and I got to sit with other writers and talk to them about what they were working on. I even got to meet Elle Daniels whose book He’s No Prince Charming got signed by the agent she met at last year’s conference. I’m hoping to convince her to write a guest post on the blog (shhh… I haven’t asked her yet).
As I pranced along to the next workshop I was amazed by how well the conference was planned. While in the next workshop I noticed another tidbit repeated over and over “Make sure that above all else, you have a unique and powerful voice”. The two things I learned thus far were: find an agent who gets you and find your voice.
Prior to the event, I was struggling to understand what Writing Fiction for Dummies meant when it discussed style. After the conference I finally understood that style and voice were the same thing.
As the day drew closer to night I found that my mind was working hard to digest all that I was learning. There were people of all ages there and I was surprised by how diverse a group it was. I think I need to hang out with writers more often. I attended several more workshops and another tidbit emerged. This too, was stated by more than one panelist/presenter- write the best novel possible.
Up until now writing has been a bit of a collision course for me. I’ve written stories, posted them on blogs and on amazon as ebooks. I’ve taken them down and said no more. I’ve walked away from writing only to be pulled back in because the stories won’t leave me alone. Yet, being plagued by stories and giving them a voice are two completely different things. Going to the conference helped me understand that writing is a process.
Depending on the type of story you want to write you may spend years creating it. Elle Daniels was able to write her story in a few months. As I talked with her I realized that Duchess of Dark Mercies needs to be shelved for a while. It has some flaws that need to be fixed but, also, it is the kind of book that needs years to become mature enough to be become more than idea.
Overall, I loved the conference and I highly recommend any and all writers attend them.
One other things I gleaned was that “Publishing a novel isn’t about the idea but about the execution of the idea.” Katharine Sands.