It seems conference season is starting up again, or maybe it's been going on all year and I just haven't paid attention. I head to Romantic Times Conference in Columbus, OH, on the 27th. I've mentioned several times that RT is my favorite con, hands down. It's expensive, but everything is these days, and it is a business write off for me so I don't think too much about it. Since I do "double duty" at RT, signing as both Lori and Lorelei, it's really the most bang for my buck, especially since the fan base is heavily weighted on the fan end, not with writers.
I remember the first conferences I attended. I made a point to go to every workshop that interested me, and being frustrated when two workshops I "needed" were held at the same time. I've heard some of my favorite authors speak. I've heard them explain their processes, their world building, their frustration with fan expectations not matching their series visions. All great stuff. Memorable for me as a struggling author before I was published, and then a first time author with a book under my belt.
But the more conferences I attended, the more books I wrote...the more lax I've gotten in attending those workshops and seminars held during conferences. And I've wondered why, lately, because I sure as hell don't think I know everything about the publishing world. Or about writing.
I'm scheduled to be on a sex in mysteries panel, and a writing in two genres panel at Romantic Times. I'm happy, in that I get to be on panels with other writer friends, talking about working within or outside genre constraints. I'm fairly comfortable with these types of panels, especially if there's interaction with the audience. But one thing I'm not comfortable with? How-to type panels focused on craft. How to create larger than life characters. How to make setting come alive. How to write steamy sex scenes. How to craft snappy dialogue. How to...well, write.
I'm not a teacher, heck, I'm a college dropout. I have the utmost admiration for those souls who spend their lives and careers breaking it down to the basics for the uninitiated, in any topic, be it English, or Geometry. Or writing. Maybe part of the reason I'd sweat that type of "workshop" is because I really have no idea how to explain my process beyond this:
1) ass in chair, every day
2) finish what you start, you can--and should--edit very very heavily after the rough draft
(Psst --and a little magic pixie dust. Because when a story gels, it gels, and sometimes even I have no idea how I pulled it off. And if I dissect it, I fear the little bit of magic will go away and never come back again)
And even putting that out there in public, I'll get authors who tell me "Oh, I NEVER edit, when I finish a book, it's done" - or "Follow an outline and you'll never NEED that bit of pixie dust" or something along those lines, letting me know the way I'm doing it is...well, wrong. Or at least not the way they're doing it. So I'm back to the mindset of what works for me, works for me, and doesn't work for everybody, so hey, can't we talk about something else?
What was the very best panel you've ever attended at a conference or a writer's workshop?