Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eclectic MWW Highlights, and a Blog Break

I'm back from the MWW -- Midwest Writers Workshop -- held last weekend at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. I simply had the best time imaginable. I met my agent in person. It was just so spectacular that I don't even know what to say. (Except, "I want to do it again! Preferably now!") Let me say this: If you can meet your agent, do it.

Things I learned:

  • This conference has been going on since 1973! 
  • Divergent author Veronica Roth found her agent there in 2009.
  • Faculty over the years has included Jessamyn West, Madeleine L'Engle, Stella Pevsner, Marion Dane Bauer, Clive Cussler, Lawrence Block, Lois Duncan, William Zinsser, Joyce Carol Oates, and Robert Newton Peck, to name only a few.
  • I am definitely no longer the complete pantser I once was. My favorite session was called "How to Write a Novel in 7 Steps," in which mystery writer Jess Lourey shared how she writes 60K-word novels in three months in her spare time. 
  • In another session, on setting, William Kent Krueger asked everyone to nail a description of their hometown in a sentence of less than ten words. He said, "Think about everything you don't have to say because you've said one thing really well." His example was a motel room with a dripping air conditioner and moldy carpet underneath it. You've got that room pegged, don't you? Here's what I jotted down about my childhood town: "Paper mill sludge perfumes the river that splits it." (Yes, this was before the first Earth Day. :)) 
It's pretty common for writers to come home from conferences ready to write. But while inspiration can come from session content or quotable speakers, it usually comes from the connections we make. I met my wonderful agent in person. I don't truly believe in luck, but the word somehow captures the feeling in the way that loftier, and sometimes smugger, words like "fortunate" or "blessed" just can't: I feel like the luckiest writer on the planet.

And I have plenty of writing to keep me busy. I'll be taking August off, but I'll see you here again on September 4. Have a wonderful rest of the summer!


Bish Denham said...

I love the challenge of writing about your home town (or anything really) in 10 words or less.

Have a wonderful time off, hope it's productive.

Leandra Wallace said...

I'm sold! If possible I'm going to try and make it next year, if even for just a day. And it's so neat that you got to meet Peter in person!

Mirka Breen said...

when I am fortunate to have an agent, (and you have a wonderful one) I will remind myself to try to meet said agent in person. This is a funny business where I have yet to meet the artist assigned to illustrate my PB, or any of the editors I have been lucky to work with. Lots of Emails, but never in person.

Vijaya said...

Marcia, how wonderful you got to meet Pete, and have some shiny tools to put in your writer's box! I hope you will share later when you get a chance.

Dawn Malone said...

I'm intrigued about writing a novel in 7 steps; if only 3 months could BE so productive for me! Glad to hear you enjoyed the conference, and that you met your agent in person. Muncie isn't far from central IL. I might have to check into that next year!

janet smart said...

So glad you met your agent. And, I love your sentence describing your home town.