This week I’m attending the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR) 2017 Conference. It’s organized and run by Carol Lynch Williams, with a ton of awesome-sauce helpers supporting her. This is one of the best writers’ conferences for honing your craft that I’ve ever gone to, and aside from a couple of years when I foolishly talked myself out of going, I just reserve the week (and the money). I know, I say that every year. So?
That’s where I’ve gone this week, and why I’m not posting my usual stuff. It’s been so good to surround myself with other writers who understand both my angst and my passion. They totally get my desire to scream, “Leave me alone, I’m writing! Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me. Pretend I’m invisible. Go. Away.”
This year I signed up for all the one-day morning workshops. So far I’ve had a workshop on plotting with Brody Ashton, and a workshop on children’s nonfiction with Sharlee Glenn. It’s so helpful to see how other people manage their writing messes and work through their muddled middles. Tomorrow there is no morning workshop, so I’ll use the time to outline and revise. Thursday, Ann Dee Ellis will spend the morning teaching about the power of vulnerability, and Friday I’ll be learning about world-building with J. Scott Savage. Who, I must confess to being a little bit in love with. (No worries, Mr. Hot Stuff 😉 ) He is one of the most generous people I know when it comes to giving his time and encouragement to other writers. Plus seriously, have you read his books?! I’m completely sucked into his Mysteries of Cove series.
I’m telling you, it’s like someone pasted a giant crescendo mark over my week and said, “Here, have some awesome!” Some of the stuff I’ve learned so far has been basic review – which has been even more helpful than I expected. I fixed some plot holes thanks to Brody, and I have reawakened the part of me that adores well-written children’s nonfiction thanks to Sharlee. It’s a good reminder to me that it’s healthy to go back to the basics of plotting, researching, and revision.
The afternoon plenary sessions and one-hour classes have been helpful and reassuring also. Hearing Lindsey Leavitt say (loosely quoted), “This is your apprenticeship time. Enjoy it. Don’t rush it,” was so encouraging. I needed that. And when she said, “What you have to say is important,” it was like someone gave my writing-heart CPR. This year has been hard. Looking back, I’m not certain how I survived it all. But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that I HAVE TO WRITE. Sometimes I joke that it’s cheaper than counseling, but really, I think it’s better for me than counseling. So if I dis you so I can do it, please remember that it’s better than doing anything that ends in -cide. I love to draw and paint, too, but they don’t do for my soul what writing does.
Listening to Stephen Fraser speak today about our need for privacy was another blessed boost. “Claim your privacy. Your aloneness.” He has such a good way of giving strong encouragement. What a thoughtful, gracious person he is.
I went to Ilima Todd’s class this afternoon about incorporating subtext in our writing and it gave me some good ideas for packing more meaning into some of my book scenes.
I am looking forward to what tomorrow holds!
And praying that I’ll be able to sleep tonight.
Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents. That’s my motto scripture for the week.