Thoughts about Mount Hermon continued

You can tell what’s on my brain. Well, one of the things. I’m finding that writing requires me to juggle several different projects at the same time. Yesterday I covered a soccer semifinal for the paper and today I’ll be working on preparing a manuscript for the ACFW Genesis contest. (No, I haven’t just started work on that manuscript! 😉 ) Then there is my critique group and the work I must submit as well as the pieces I must crit.

But in the background is an article idea, a short story contest, and Mount Hermon. Since I’ve chosen to write about Mount Hermon, though, I guess you’d say it isn’t so much in the background as I suggested. That’s partly true. At some point it will have to move to the foreground and take precedence over other projects.

There’s a deadline for submitting advance manuscripts, for instance. And there are things to prepare, to buy, to iron and pack. But until that time, I have other things on the front burner. Still, I am planning and thinking about the conference.

Why? What’s it all about?

If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference you might be wondering what the big deal is. For me, it’s a layered event. On one level it is pure fun. I mentioned last time that I first went to Mount Hermon not knowing anyone. Not so any more.

I’ve traveled with writers from my area, had roommates, met people in mentoring groups, connected with others I know online, worked with some, been rejected by others (editors, rejecting my manuscript, which has the odd effect that I then feel I can be myself around them since I’m no longer asking something of them. The truth is, editors are interesting people). Going to Mount Hermon has a little bit of the feel of a reunion, one where you really like being with the people.

Which brings me to the next point. Everywhere you look, there are writers. In every day life, most people aren’t sure what it is I actually do all day. Writers know (and some wish with all their hearts they were doing it all day, too). Mount Hermon brings us together and we can rejoice or commiserate with each other. We can talk shop and the others will understand, not just what we’re dealing with but why it’s important. We can learn from others who are in a different place in the publishing process, and we can share what we know with those coming along behind us.

And there’s the third key. Learning. Writers often talk about learning the craft, but how does that happen? Partly by reading good literature, but partly by having more experienced writers point out what it is that works and how to implement those. And of course “learning” incorporates the writing profession—the business side as well as the creating side. Lots and lots and lots to learn about the business.

Notice, as yet I haven’t mentioned meeting editors and agents as a chief reason for going to Mount Hermon. It is a reason, but by no means the chief reason or the only reason. Editors and agents will tell you they don’t take unsolicited manuscripts, but they find new clients through referrals and through writers’ conferences. Certainly, then, meeting them should be of paramount importance.

The reality is, most editors and agents have only a few slots open. They may go to three or four conferences a year looking for one or two authors. To think that I can go to a conference and come away with a contract is tantamount to spending a dollar on a lottery ticket and expecting to become a millionaire. Yes, it does happen, but what are the odds?

And besides, if, as I believe, God is able to do the impossible, He is not constrained by my attendance or lack thereof at a writers’ conference.

Yes, I will make an effort to meet with an editor or two, maybe with an agent. I’ll definitely try to reconnect with those I’ve met before, but no, I’m not looking to the writers’ conference as my ticket to a contract. Been there, done that, and learned writers’ conferences don’t supersede God’s plans.

Published in: on February 27, 2008 at 11:23 am  Comments (3)  
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