Monday, September 12, 2011

A Real, Live Writer

I got to attend my very first writers' conference this weekend. Be it money, time, energy...whatever...I've wanted to attend one ever since I started my MFA program back in 2002 and have never been able to.

Over the summer, I saw a call go out for scholarships to attend this year's Alaska Writers Guild conference and threw my entry into the pool, thinking nothing would probably ever come of it.

That's the way most exciting stories start out, isn't it?

So there I was, scholarshipped to the max and sitting in a large hotel conference room waiting for brilliance. Waiting for leadership. Waiting for that line to be drawn in the sand that is my life, clearly marking "before" and then one for "after."

(Cue crickets.)

Turns out, not even access to literary agents, publishers, and industry experts can validate your feelings and dreams as a writer. Hell, if anything, they seem to be there to knock your dreams back a few notches and into the "doable" category.

I gleaned a lot from the speakers. I learned one's preference when it comes to the allmighty query. I learned how another turns her feature-writing abilities into short stories. I heard a take on where publishing stands in 2011, and even how I can be funny even if I am pretty sure I am not.

But nowhere in there was the magic equation to turn word documents in to literary alchemy that I always assumed one learned at a writer's conference. This entire time, I've been waiting for some experience to validate my existence as a writer...whether it's a big chunk o' change advance, landing an agent, or making that golden connection at a conference. Something out there would turn me into a real, live writer and I just had to find it.

Didn't find it hiding under the lunch buffet Saturday afternoon and it sure wasn't taped to the white board later in the afternoon. I was stymied when it wasn't on the agenda. Nobody took the time out of their presentations to tell me I was a writer. A good one. One that was going to make it big, and while they were at it, lay down the road map to get there, and believe me, I was ready. Never happened.

Alaska is funny, too. I think if a moose walked in and sat down at a table, the speakers wouldn't have been more taken aback than they were with the rag tag group of rowdy writers who showed up this weekend. Loud. Persnickety. Opinionated. Not impressed enough by the talent to wear an unstained shirt. Unimpressed by the pedigrees and the client lists, the Alaskan writers were unabashadly themselves and likely sent the guests back to California wondering what they just witnessed.

No. No literary alchemy this weekend. Just a couple new friends and the feeling that I've been on the right track all along...that I've been a real, live writer the whole time. Funny, right?

No shame in the long way, I guess.



1 comment:

  1. Yes! Being a Writer seems so lofty and unattainable, but I'm starting to think that it really isn't!