I’ll be honest, most of the writing panels I attended didn’t really teach me a whole lot. There were exceptions: The panel on Theme was instructive, lots of notes to transcribe and try to read there. Liz Argall was a standout there. The panel on how to give a reading by Mary Robinette Kowall was the most entertaining of all. But most of them were saying things I already know and just need to execute on.
So I adjusted my attitude and intention. After the first day, Thursday, I went just to meet people and have fun. I went to readings by people I knew slightly or had read or who just sounded interesting. It was wonderful. Alma Alexander read stories I felt in my heart, Jack Skillingstead made me feel the isolation and fear of the last uninfected girl in…the world, possibly. And Mary Robinette Kowall…wow. Just wow. Many others, too many to relate. The author readings are officially my favorite part of the con. Almost up there with the Princess Leia costumes (you know the one).
I got to meet Lou Anders face to face finally. I didn’t get the chance to buy him dinner or a drink but he threw a heck of a party. I got to talk to him at length hear, to my shock, that he hadn’t gotten around to George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. I envy him the ride he’s about to go on. He’s a great guy and a great editor. I look forward to pestering Pyr with an increasing pile of novels until I have one up to his standards. It’s a goal.
There were other authors there as well and it was great talking to them. The ones near my age, the older vets, the hungry ones like myself. Once I relaxed, I just enjoyed myself, introduced myself.
The Fairwood writer critique was less pleasant. The feedback was mostly negative and I was honestly surprised. I still am. One of the four pros seemed t like it and be willing to read on. One of the four I’m less sure actually read it, I get the feeling they skimmed it. They didn’t give me notes or anything, just verbal dissatisfaction. One gave me a sample synopsis, which I’m sure will be useful. One was hung up on formatting problems and the font of the header and footer. Some of the feedback was useful and gave me things to think about. No one was abusive, dismissive perhaps, but it wasn’t personal.
The Clarion West panel was also tough on me. Basically hearing that I wasn’t a good enough writer to make the cut was hard to hear, even if no one said it to my face. I poured my heart and my soul into my submission there, just like I did for the Fairwood Writer’s submission and no wonder. I submitted the same chapters to both. I just wasn’t good enough, I can’t believe I didn’t WANT it enough. I was ready to sacrifice everything to go. I wanted to go, I thought I was ready. Others disagreed and I don’t know why. I don’t know why I didn’t make the cut there.
It gives me a sick feeling when I think of it. I was in a funk all day yesterday. But what am I going to do? Give up? Hell no. Call be stubbornly stupid but I’m going to finish my last revision and then I’m sending my baby out.
In stark contrast, the panel analyzing the first page of my novel was very complimentary. They loved it, had almost no feedback for improvement.
So who do I listen to?
The answer is myself. I have to listen to my own judgment, write what I want to read and forget about ‘what is the target audience for this book’ criticisms. I may not be at the level where everyone falls at my feet and tells me how great I am. But I’m a damn good writer and I’m going to prove it, drop by drop of my heart’ blood if needs be.