Monday, June 14, 2010

The 2010 Philadelphia Writers' Conference

Few things rejuvenate creativity more than surrounding yourself with dozens (hundreds?) of other writers excited about writing. At the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference from June 11-13, I re-energized the writer within and learned even more about the business of being a writer.

Reinforcement of Previous Lessons on Writing

A lot of the workshop leaders and presenters at the conference geared their lectures towards beginning writers or writers with little experience in business of writing. Having both BA and MA degrees in creative writing and 9 credits towards an MS in communications, I have already learned many of the tips the presenters offered:

- Show, don’t tell

- How to write nonfiction leads

- What makes characters interesting

- How to submit to literary magazines

But even though I knew some of the information already, it was still great to have a reminder and have that important info reinforced and maybe permanently etched into my brain.

Conference Highlights

Many aspects of the conference stand out as amazingly helpful and enlightening. Two of my favorite parts were the Friday night buffet and the Saturday night banquet, and not just because of the tasty food. These meals gave me an opportunity to sit down and speak with other aspiring writers and I met some lovely, friendly people. Also, after the buffet, a panel of agents and editors spoke about their agencies/publishing companies and answered questions about the industry. I found the comments of some of the agents – Fran Collin and Sarah Yake (Frances Collin Literary Agency), Regina Brooks (Serendipity) and Loretta Barrett (Loretta Barrett Books) – especially helpful.

the last LectureAt the Saturday night banquet, Jeffrey Zaslow, co-author of The Last Lecture and author of Girls from Ames and Highest Duty, spoke about his books and writing. He is an excellent speaker – engaging and witty – and his speech definitely stands out as a highlight of the weekend.

Also at the banquet, PWC board gave out writing awards and I won honorable mention for my magazine article, “Ghost Hunting with Godzilla”! How exciting! It’s always nice to get recognized for your work.

Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 Tours That Changed the WorldLarry Kane opened the conference with an excellent speech, which touched on different aspects of his career. Of his many accomplishments, one of them is writing a memoir about his experience reporting on the Beatles. He regaled us with anecdotes of the Beatles that definitely make me want to get my hands on his book Ticket to Ride.

A one-day, 45-minute Travel Writing session with Bill Reed, the travel editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was also fantastic. He spoke well and had excellent tips and anecdotes for aspiring travel writers.

Dean Koontz: A Writer's BiographyKatherine Ramsland’s nonfiction book writing workshop was another highlight for me because of her straightforwardness and her obvious wealth of knowledge on the topic. Of her many writing accomplishments, she wrote a biography of Dean Koontz. As she was telling us about his life, she mentioned that he taught English at a high school in “backwoods Appalachia,” which is kind of funny because that high school is in my hometown! My aunt had him for English, and I think he supervised my dad’s study hall.

The conference ended with a panel of writers discussing how to sell yourself and your writing, which is probably where I learned the most new information.

Information Overload

I am now very excited to start incorporating this new knowledge into my writing life. I need to develop a marketing plan. I need to create a Web site. I need to keep writing!

I plan to blog more about my progress incorporating all of this new information, so stay tuned for more posts.

Has anyone else attended a conference recently? Or plan to in the near future? I’d love to hear about other conferences!

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