24 Jan

Sharing the Awesome: Writer’s Digest Conference 2011

Posted in Community, Conferences, Inspiration, Writing

Hello friends of iggi!  How I missed you and your smiling bloggy faces while I was at the Writer’s Digest Conference.  It was such a great weekend though and I had oodles of fun.  I met lots of amazing people and learned tons and tons.

Oooh, and guess what…  I’ve brought back prezzies!

There was so much awesome stuff to learn at this conference and I want to share it all with you.  After all, what’s the fun of having something awesome if you can’t share it with your friends, right?

The bad news is, I can’t give you exact transcripts of all the sessions I saw.  First off, I didn’t manage to take notes on every last detail of awesome because I can’t write that fast, so I only wrote down the really good stuff.  And secondly , I’m not sure it’s actually legal or good-sportsman-like for me to transcribe those sessions anyway.  (And lawyer-hubby reads this blog, so I gotta stay on the nice side of legal.)

But the good news is, I can give you the really super bits of awesome.  And when it comes to the other stuff… really, do you want to hear the boring parts?  Didn’t think so.

What does this mean for the iggiLand?  For the next whatever-many days, I’ll be doing recaps of all the super-amazing tools, tricks and ideas I picked up at the conference.  This means I’ll be breaking out of my usually-scheduled post topics, but I have a hunch you’ll forgive me.

Here’s a preview of what’s in store:

  • How Reading Can Change the World
  • Agent Panel: Quit Obsessing
  • Every Book Can Get Better
  • Writing Conferences: Don’t Be “That Guy”
  • Two Words about Social Media: Don’t Panic
  • How to Survive the Revision Process
  • Blogging 101
  • Writing: We Are All in This Together

In the meantime, you can find more awesome at the Writer’s Digest live conference blog.  Oh, and if you were at the conference and you couldn’t see a session because it conflicted with another one, you can always check out the live conference blog to see the ones you missed.  (I know I’m going to…)

And on twitter, check out the #wdc11 hash tag for conference-related tweets.

Oh, and if you were at the conference and are doing recap posts on your blog, feel free to leave the link in the comments so we can all share the awesome with you!

Now, here’s a round of iggi-tinis for all.


05 Nov

Who’s in Your Corner?

Posted in Community

It’s easy to be a supportive friend and colleague when things are going according to the status quo.  People fall into patterns and get used to things being normal.  They adopt roles within their social groups and communities: “helper” “mentor” “leader” and so on.  But what do you do when the “helper” is the one who needs help?  Or the “mentor” needs some mentoring?  Or the “leader” needs someone to take the reins for a while?  When anything veers away from the standard pattern, relationships get tested.  This is true of friends in all walks of life, including writing friends.

There are key moments when you find out who’s in your corner, like when you and a friend bump heads, or when you’re going through an especially tough spot in your own life.  This is when you discover who you can count on and who you can’t.  Because a true friend will adjust his or her role and adapt to the crisis at that moment.  Friends recognize the difference between the person and the problem at hand, and they find a way to move forward.

Moments of success are also key for showing who’s on your side.  True friends will be happy for your success and you’ll be happy for theirs as well.  There’s no competition or need to compare with one another because you trust that there’s enough goodness in the universe to go around.  Good friends will celebrate with you, whether the obstacle overcome is small or enormous.

In life as well as in writing, it’s important to know who’s in your corner.  To those of you who have seen me through happy writing moments and through not-so-happy ones, I’d like to say a huge “Thank You.”  To those who have just joined the fun, welcome!  I can’t wait to hear what you have to say and learn more about you.  And to those special people who are my anchors and support (you know who you are), I don’t deserve you but I’m so glad you’re my friend.

Happy Friday!


18 Oct

Going it Alone

Posted in Community, Critique, DIY MFA

As a writer, at some point you’re going to find yourself alone.  Maybe it’s because a deadline has got you shut up in your house for days, weeks, months even.  Maybe it’s because you’re just not ready to share your work even with your most trusted readers.  Maybe it’s because you feel your work is fragile right now and you have to protect it from interlopers.  Whatever the reason, you and your work will become each others best company, so you’d better get along.

This is why I love this tree in the picture.  It’s a lone cypress tree just of the coast of the Pebble Beach golf course in CA.  It’s the only thing of green on that rock and yet it holds on with such tenacity.  It stands there, daring the world to get in its way: proud, tall, and alone.

Sometimes as writers we have to be the tree.  When people say “you can’t grow there, it’s a big rock” we just have to dig our roots in wherever they’ll squeeze and show those doubtful meddlers we can grow.  When people say “you’re all alone, a freak, an outsider” we just shrug, look out at the ocean and remember that while we might be alone, we’ve got the best view on the planet.

When it comes to writing, community isn’t just about knowing when to connect with people, it’s about knowing when you need to go to that room of your own and close the door.  When nurturing a small sprig of story, we can’t let everyone water the plant or it will drown.  New ideas are fragile and can get easily squashed if not protected.

Julia Cameron calls this “containment” and I agree.  I’ve made the mistake in the past of letting too many writers and non-writers into my “circle of trust” and subsequently stories have been pulled in every old which-way and got torn to pieces.  Now I have a smaller circle of trust.  One person reads my rough drafts and pushes me forward, five readers form a critique group that reads more polished work and one reader is my go-to person for career stuff and big-picture notes on my work.  The rest of the time, my best company is me, myself and I.

What about you?  Are you comfortable going it alone sometimes?


21 Sep

Choosing the Right Conference

Posted in Community, Conferences, DIY MFA

‘Tis the season for conferences and other writerly events but sometimes choosing the right event can leave us flapping our feathers.

Of course, we can always take the easy route and follow the flock, but what good does that do us as writers?

In the end, we must choose the right kind of conference to suit our needs, so that we can commune with other birds of a feather.

And that brings me to the core of this post.  Just as there are many species of geese, there are many different types of conferences, but in my experience–having attended several–there are three basic types: Wild Goose Chase, Good for the Gander, and Mother Goose.

The Wild Goose Chase (AKA the Publishing Conference) is all about getting published.  Speakers are mostly industry professionals–agents and editors–who share insights on how to write a pitch, what should/shouldn’t go in your query and the overall publishing process.  These publishing-focused conferences are very useful for writers who know little about the actual publishing process, but it can become repetitive over time.  After all, you can only hear the “how to get published” talk so many times before you just have to go out and write the darn book.  Also, I find that going to this type of conference too early on in the writing process can discourage some writers.  Instead, I would recommend holding off on a publishing conference until you’re feeling pretty good about your draft or are ready to start the query process.  At that point, then, the more information you get about the business, the better.

The Good for the Gander (AKA Craft-focused Retreats) is great fun and is especially useful if your writing is in need of some serious shaking up.  These conferences usually include a mix of publishing talks from industry professionals and inspirational talks by published authors but the core focus is on the craft itself.  Often these types of conferences involve reading writing samples from fellow writers and discussing them in a workshop setting.

The Mother Goose (AKA Inspirational Conferences) is all about inspiring the writer within.  Sure, there will be some opportunity to hear industry leaders talk about the biz but the main focus is often on inspiring writers to keep… writing (duh).  These are the warm ‘n fuzzy conferences where you leave inspired to run home, boot up the computer and start the fingers flying across the keys.

If you’re looking into a conference, how do you know which species it is?  Look at the schedule of events.  Who are the speakers?  Is it mostly authors with a publishing panel or two thrown in for good measure?  Then it’s probably a Mother Goose.  Or are the majority of the talks all about publishing?  If yes, then you’re heading for a Wild Goose Chase.  And is there a workshop component?  If so, you’re most likely going to a conference that’s Good for the Gander.

Ultimately, there’s no one type of conference that’s better than another, but when you invest the time, money and effort to attend a conference, you’ll be best served if you go to a conference that suits your needs.  If you are at the point where you need to start informing yourself about publishing, a publishing-focused conference is for you.  If instead, you want to connect with other writers and rekindle that love of writing, an inspirational conference is probably more your vibe.  And finally, if you want to get new perspectives on your work, a workshop-retreat is your best bet. 

What type of conference do you think would suit you best at this point in your writing?


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