Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Tuesday at RT
Re-entering the real world after being at RT for a week is tough. A week of fantasy parties and balls, workshops and award luncheons. And for moi, oodles of rehearsals. Here I am with the same authors/friends that I posted a picture of yesterday. Only this is from Friday night at the Faery Ball, and this shot includes mystery writer, Lori Armstrong (far left).
Where was I? Ah, yes. Real world. Braindead. Still, as I'm on a tight deadline now, I had no choice but to dig in and work on my WIP yesterday. Even though I was fog-brained it went pretty well. Fog-brained and/or stressed-out-of-my-mind seems to be a positive creative state for me. Go figure.
This time last week, I was battling workshop presenter jitters. "You're a professional performer," Mary said. "How can you be nervous?" My lame but honest answer: "It's not the same." The primary focus is on 'teaching' not entertaining. Though it's a bonus if you can do both. Mostly, I was nervous about having to fill 90 minutes. Particularly since our topic was "The Great What If". The concept, a form of brainstorming, is so simple. How do you fill 90 minutes?
But we did. We gave examples from our books. From other people's books. We used some of the examples you so generously provided at this blog. The class gasped in horror at Cyndi's 'no caffeine world'. Quite comical. We bounced live ideas off of one another. We had interactive sessions and threw out chocolates and prizes. We eventually split the class (of about 40) into groups to brainstorm a story. Overall, we kept the presentation casual, accepting questions at any time. There were a lot of questions. I knew that this workshop was for beginners. But I didn't realize how new these attendees were to the writing scene until the questions started flying. Suddenly, I felt rooted and in a comfort zone. My nerves disappeared as I realized I really did have a lot to offer at this level and these writers were eager to learn. Their enthusiasm was infectious and their brainstorming efforts excellent. After the class, I received comments like, "I haven't read you before, but now I will!"
I continued to hear positive feedback throughout the week from these classmates. I was involved in a lot of special events this past week, but I do believe teaching this workshop worked best as a way of winning over new readers. I also very much enjoyed having a positive impact on another writer. My hats off to all of those who signed up for the two-day intensive beginner program. Educating yourself, learning your craft and the business is the single best thing you can do if you're serious about getting published. I heard some horror stories from a couple of editors. Huge mistakes made by new writers, mistakes that insured their manuscript will NOT be accepted. Maybe not even read. Word of advice to new-to-the-field-writers: Attend workshops, in-person or on-line. Ask questions. Read how-to books. Learn and practice proper etiquette. I did it. I still do. Getting published is hard enough. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by not knowing the basics.
After the workshop, Mary and I officially registered for the conference and the madness began. We attended a Luau Welcoming Party (complete with hula dancers) then skipped over to author Dolores Wilson's room. She graciously hosted a party for the attending Medallion authors. Several I had never met in person, so it was nice to put a face with a name. After about an hour or so, Mary and I had to tear ourselves away to attend a read through for Heather Graham's Vampires of the Carribean mystery play. This is when Mary learned that she was no longer the lead wench but the Oracle, and had a major speaking role! As the cursed mermaid (my voice had been stolen), I had no 'lines' but lots of 'mimes' and as other actors cued off of whatever I was miming, I realized I still had to memorize quite a bit. The readthrough was great fun. Our fellow cast members, each and every one, are friends and clowns. Sides hurting from laughing, Mary and I retired to our room around midnight. We went over our scripts (we had two days to memorize), gossiped, laughed, set the alarm for seven a.m. and collapsed around one a.m. A long but fulfilling day!
Tomorrow... Wednesday's adventures!