Sunday, June 05, 2011

Best (of the 3 I've attended) Arkansas Writers' Conference ever

On Friday and Saturday I attended this year's Arkansas Writers' Conference. I was planning on skipping this year to save my time, energy and resources for the New York trip. And then the brochure came, showing Jane Friedman as the featured speaker. Based on that, I rallied at the last minute, cobbled together 4 conference entries (because if I'm going, I'm going to have a horse in the race. It's kind of a thing with me, a strange compulsion that is paired with a need to win leading to a good chance of gloom thanks to only so-so skills in so many areas). April was terrible, my heart wasn't in the contest, and so I had some concerns about how this might turn out.

I'm so glad I changed my  mind. I really enjoyed nearly every minute, and the sessions where Jane Friedman covered the necessities of a query and the future of the book were so valuable. I learned. I loved it. The other sessions I enjoyed because I like to listen to people who are passionate talk about writing, even if it is about crossword puzzles or editing a section of the newspaper or crafting editorials. I like a funny story. I am an easy audience. Some people weren't. And there was a little tension over the future of the book. More on that tomorrow.

10 Reasons this was the best Arkansas Writers' Conference (of the three I have attended):
10. There was cake. I like cake.
9. And also good air conditioning. As it is currently the same temperature as the face of the sun in Little Rock before you add the heat index, good AC matters.
8. Lunch discussion where I explained how I ended up at Leisure Arts seemed to really interest people. I try to avoid being the center of attention, but I find it interesting that people find my job interesting.
7. Knowing the ropes. I ended up sitting next to a couple of fresh faces, people who are just beginning. It is so much easier to pretend you have it all together when you sit next to a beginner.
6. First Honorable Mention for the "breaking through the dog door" date story that I revised to enter into a humorous prose contest. It's good to see that memorable experience pay off in some manner.
5. Third Place in the Humane Society contest for my Darcy story. It started out as the "Devastated" post here. I wanted this award and would have been heartbroken all over again if I didn't get it. Once I did and my sanity was assured, it was all good.
4. Second Place in the "Proud to be an American" contest for an essay about a virtue or blessing we don't want to forget. I picked kindness with a "Golden Rule" twist.
3. Second Place in the Grand Conference contest which wanted a humorous look at how usage of a word had changed through history. I went "tweet" although I toyed with "winning" for a bit. As the Charlie Sheen boat seems to have already sailed, I think I made the right choice.
2. Jane Friedman. Honestly, she made the difference. I've enjoyed the previous speakers but as far as nuts and bolts how-to information, she's the best we've had.
1. Being encouraged. I ran into plenty of people willing to give an encouraging word. I get discouraged too easily. This is the value of a writer's conference.


Nancy said...

WOW.... congrats on all the awards.. and lucky you with A/C..Ours went out and I think I lost 3 lbs sweating..NOT the way to diet..

Elizabeth Ann said...