On Saturday I took part in Write Here Write Now where I sat in a converted church nave with about 200 creative people and wrote. The organizers did their jobs well and based the entire day on a massive darkroom timer brought by Garth Stein. Timothy Egan ("I couldn't write in a place where the weather didn't suck") gave the initial talk. He offered us a prompt and we were off, fingers flying over keyboards, across blank sheets of paper, or along tablets (how do you write on those things?)
Most of the time I worked on my own projects: my new YA novel which is going well and a story about my trip from Shanghai to Beijing to the Great Wall, which pretty much went kerplop and I will probably not pursue further (but at least I know now)(I truly am a fiction girl).
After 45 minutes, the buzzer buzzed, another insanely illustrious author got up to speak for ten minutes, supplied another prompt, and set us free again.
This went on from 8:15 a.m. until lunch time, then resumed in the afternoon.
Throughout the day, the authors met one-on-one with us wannabes in pre-scheduled 12 minute increments. The powers that be assigned me to William Dietrich.
Suckily, I was in the bathroom when my name was called, so missed most of my session. Slight gripe: It would've been nice to have a half hour for the one-on-ones. Also, William Dietrich is not a woman. I really needed him to be a female who writes contemporary fiction, preferrably YA. Ours was not a love connection, but he did offer me a useful tidbit* that I chewed on for quite a few hours after.
Alas, I attended Write Here Write Now mostly for the chance to write within a community of other writers and this I did. This I loved.
Here are some things I learned:
1. Timers are your friend. If you're prone to distraction like me (Facebook, Pinterest, GoodReads, etc.), you set the timer for 30 minutes, an hour, or whatever, and work like wildfire on your project. You don't check email. You don't answer the phone. You don't get refreshments. You just work until that timer goes off. Then you take a break and start over again.
2. Authors who've found success through traditional publishing routes don't think much of putting your own book on Amazon, as carefully as you may have crafted it, they don't generally consider it a viable path to success. Others may argue, but this seemed to be the pervading school of thought Saturday.
3. High concept might be as simple (not easy, but simple) as *"backing up a dumptruck of shit to your protagonist and tipping the bucket". You want to make them suffer. And suffer some more. My writing tends to be darkish, but in a subtle way. My task: to shovel on extra shit.
4. I want more. I'm greedy for creative stretches where I'm surrounded by others who seek the same thing. I want to concept and brainstorm, and then go into my little cave and create.
5. Writing fiction recharges me like nothing else except sleep. I left the Abbey on Saturday jonesing to stay up all night, to party, to talk, to write more. And I loved that feeling.