Monthly Archives: August 2011

Operation: Writers Conference!

When I was a little girl, I was always being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At first I told them, “I want to be a dolphin.” Later I told them, “I want to be a writer.” Both of these choices were seen by “grown-ups” as being equally impossible.

Still, here I am, firmly set on at least one of those career paths (the dolphin thing didn’t work out, sad to say. I can’t hold my breath for very long at all). I’ve honed my craft, completed many a manuscript, and been kindly rejected by almost every single literary agent on Agent Query (“Great, but not the right fit for me” is my standard level of rejection. It’s not too bad, considering). I’ve analyzed the market, self-published a novel never meant for mainstream, and really, truly clarified what I want from my writing and my career as an author. Have I “made it?” No. But I’m on my way.

And how do I know that? Because making a living by sharing my stories with the world is my dream. Because writing is the most magical, powerful, transformative thing in the world to me, and if there is anything worth devoting my time and energy to, it is writing and my career as a writer. If there is anything I have faith in in this universe, it is my ability to tell stories and my absolute love for doing so.

As when writing a story, I base a lot of decisions about my career on my gut-feelings more than logic. Recently, my gut has been telling me to do something new,  something rather unexpected for me: I’ve had a strong and sudden compulsion to attend a writers conference. Not the kind where you get together and learn craft–I’m not above a writing workshop, but I have never had a good experience with one–but the kind where you get together with agents and editors and learn about the business of querying.

Long story short, I’m looking to go back to searching for an agent. I’m never going to turn my back on self publishing, and if I can’t sign with an agent on my next book don’t worry, I will still publish it. My heart is not set on traditional publishing, but it’s not devoted to indie publishing either. I’m devoted to writing the stories I love and trying to make a living from it, and that’s what I am going to do.

Which brings me to this: I’ve found a conference that looks not only feasible for me to attend, but also something that seems incredibly worthwhile. The Backspace Writers Conference is two days of workshops focusing on query letters and opening pages, and involves no-pitch meetings with agents, which means the pressure is off. (Me likey.) The interaction with agents is the main focus of this conference, which is really what interests me. Even if they aren’t going to sign you, you get 4 different agents giving you honest feedback, and I will finally have the chance to ask them what exactly they mean when they say “I love your work, but it’s just not the right fit for me” because that’s been 95% of my rejections over the years after partial and full manuscript requests.

So. The conference is in November, in Manhattan. Lucky for me, I have a brother who lives in Park Slope who is happy to have me crash there during the conference, and I do have a $150 credit with Jetblue that will hopefully cover the cost of my roundtrip flight. So all that’s left is the cost of the conference itself, and the cost of the food I will have to eat to survive.

The price of the conference is $475, and lasts two days, so that’s 6 meals. I can pack protein bars for snacks. Including a little extra because NYC is just more expensive than I’m used to, I’d estimate $40/day (if Rachel Ray can do it, so can I!). So, the total I need to go is $555.

I’ve got some money in savings, and my parents have offered to help a little with some advance-Christmas gift action since it’s a career-oriented expense. But the more money I can raise, the better (my parents have helped me out so much in my life, I hate to continuously rely on their generosity). Things are a little tight with the whole soon-to-be-homeowner thing, and also a bajillion first time payments like homeowners insurance, etc., on top of an unexpected extra month’s rent that we may or may not see any amount of refunded.

Now, I’m not asking for donations, but there are other ways you can help, if you’re so inclined…

  • Buy my stuff :) I’ve written a novel called The Poppet and the Lune ($3.99 ebook, $11.69 paperback, on sale!) and two short stories ($.99 ebooks) that are available on amazon.com. If you haven’t read them, maybe you’d like to? Or if you have, maybe you want to give them as a gift to your friends or family? :D
  • Hire me! I’m also an editor by trade, and I would love to work with you on you own creative projects. If you’ve been thinking about hiring someone to edit your work, now is a great time to invest: I’m available, and for the purpose of this fundraiser I’m offering my services at 25% off (just mention the fundraiser when you contact me).
  • Review my stuff… if you have read TPaL or my short stories (“A Lover and its Ghosts” and “Robot Pony“), please consider leaving a review for what you’ve read on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, or BN.com. Or, if you do book reviews on your own website or blog, consider posting your review there! Any word you can spread is helpful.
  • Tweet/Facebook/Google+/Tumblr about my stuff… social networks are the fastest way to spread the word about pretty much anything on the internet. If you would like to help out, you can post about this entry, or about my editing services and the current sale price, or about my published works.

 

I appreciate any time you can spare in helping  me spread the word and raise funds for this. I know it’s not an epic thing like “I need to pay for surgery” or “I’ve been laid off and have to make my mortgage payment,” but it’s a stepping stone on a very important path for me… and I have a really good feeling about this particular conference. Not necessarily that I’ll meet my agent there, but something amazing will come of it.

I’m very excited about all of this. :)

Late Summer Musings

Summer is coming to an end. Yeah, we’ve still got a month until the Equinox, but you can feel it in the wind: a cold that reaches more deeply into your bones than a summer breeze should. And you can see it in the light–just a few degrees of a different angle to the sun’s arc across the sky turns it’s shine into something cooler, more crisp during the day, and thicker, like honey, in the evening. The greens of summer are past overripe, taking on their darkest hue before autumn drains the green and sets the foliage ablaze.

It’s a strange time of year for me. I love fall, love the magic of the season, the bounty and beauty. A million ideas come to me at once, for stories and creative projects, personal goals and life maps. It’s a high energy season, but one that has me constantly on the edge, always about to topple. I feel it sometimes in the cold, when my bare feet refuse to give up sandals and tread across cold hardwood floors. I feel it after long car rides and too-early sunsets. Fall is lovely, but when it comes, winter is not far behind. And winter is my point of exhaustion, the long gray days where I sometimes wish I was sick so that I could stay home and do nothing, days where I wish I was a kid again just so I could have someone take care of me, bring me water, stroke my hair, make me laugh even though I’m miserable. It’s the other end of the pendulum, for all the months in spring and summer and fall when I can’t seem to sit still for fear of wasting my life and my time. I don’t want to sit still in winter, either, but it all catches up with me then, every year. Every year I say it will be different–either I will work through it, or I will embrace the dreamtime, or I will just see what happens. But every winter is pretty much the same.

Summer for me has always been a time of rejuvination, of preparation. I harvest the sunlight, store it away in my cellular memory for the long winter (and here, it is long–we can reasonably expect snow from late October to April), try to soak up enough of its penetrating warmth to keep me from freezing up too early. I used to go on long walks every day, when I was unemployed and still in school. I would walk for hours in the blazing sun, sweating and browning and loving every second. I never did get sun burned. I’d bring a backpack full of notebooks and manuscripts, walk across town to whatever park I could find, sit and work for a while, and walk back. I spent days doing that. Weeks. I saw more of my city on foot than I have in a car. I got a lot of work done with that method.

But I don’t get to do that anymore. I work like a real adult, with a real mortgage and a real family. So now it’s the end of summer, and I haven’t gotten my fix. I’ve been busy working 9 and 10 hour days, packing to move into our house, trying to scrape together enough energy and time in the evenings to write, but all too often failing (but still, doing better). So now I find myself realizing how few warm, sunny days we have left, and I want to use my single day of vacation accrued so that I can just lay in the sun for a day and not think about anything. I wonder, even, if this might be something necessary, so that I don’t reach that point of unconsciously making myself sick so that I can take a (real, total) day off.

But more than wanting to hold on to a summer I somehow feel I didn’t have, I want to be ready to embrace the fall. I want to be able to bask in it, to let its magic course through me as it has already begun. I don’t want this resistance, this all-too-Taurean part of me sneaking out because it hasn’t glutted itself on sunshine just yet.

So, I didn’t want this to be a brooding introspective post. I meant to talk about how I’ve been drawing a lot lately (and actually been really proud of it, for a change, even though it’s all with pencil and crayons and bic pens at work), and have a massive desire to learn guitar again, how I’ve been craving the feeling of strings under my hands and music thrumming through my fingertips. Those things are still true. But this is what this time of year does to me. It makes me think long and deep about my life, my patterns, my plans, what I can do to fill my stores before the dark season comes.

And I guess it takes over my blog posts, too.

But even if I took a day off to bask in the sun, I think I’d get antsy. I’d want to write, or practice ukulele, or pack/clean the apartment. Maybe the lesson here, all these years, isn’t that I need to overcome winter or make better use of the other three seasons–maybe the lesson is that I need to be okay with just staying still for a while. Maybe that stillness, contentedness, is what I’m really craving. I feel like I’ve entered a time of my life when that’s hard to find, being constantly wrapped up in beginnings and endings, rarely having a spare moment to adjust to some kind of “normal” before something else begins or ends and turns things on their head again.

But there is never a dull moment, that’s for sure. I guess one of my next projects will have to be to make one.