Monday, October 26, 2009

Back from the Surrey International Writers' Conference

I'm staggering from exhaustion, but I'm back! Another year of exhilarating workshops, moving keynote speeches, long sessions in the bar with new friends and old, and a general recharging of the batteries. There is nothing like a few intense, whisky-soaked, chocolate-filled days with people who love and understand the power of the written word.

There were small moments, like the giggles we got when we spied the guy behind us wearing a tee shirt that said:

Haikus are easy

But sometimes they don't make sense


(You can buy it here and what's that you say? Would I like it for Christmas? How did you know? You must be psychic!)

Or when I shuffled over to the mall, lost in my own thoughts and only half paying attention to where I was going, once again wracked with self-doubt and tuned in to what one of the presenters referred to as "shit FM." I asked myself should I really continue with this writing business? I mean, if only I had a sign, some signal of some sort that I should continue to pursue this, that this is really what I'm meant to do.

I looked over at that moment and saw this:

...and doubled over laughing figuring the only thing missing was a smack upside the head.

And there were big moments, like Jacqui Banaszynski's moving, thoughtful keynote speech about the death of a gay farm couple featured in her Pulitzer prize winning story AIDS IN THE HEARTLAND and her coverage of the Ethiopian famine that left not a dry eye in the house. It was one of those time stood still moments.

Then there was Michael Slade's SHOCK THEATRE featuring Jack Whyte, Diana Gabaldon, Anne Perry, Sam Sykes and kc dyer that....well, that simply defies description. You just had to be there.

The magic of the Surrey Conference is very real.

Do you believe?


BB said...

How funny!!! You know I believe... Lord I think I would write even if no-one ever listened/read/took notice of what I write. It's a need in me - something I am sure I could do much better. If only life would give me some space to CONCENTRATE!!!

A Novel Woman said...

What I've discovered over the years is this - if you wait for the right conditions to write, you'll be waiting forever. There ARE no right conditions.

Don't wait for the right time. Now is the right time. Even if it's only a few minutes a day, make those minutes count.

But I hear you. Those "few minutes" I took when the kids were little meant all journal entries stopped after the entry:

"It's looking like Chris is going to be giving up his afternoon naps..."

Lottery Girl said...

OMG!!! SO FUNNY!!! SHIT FM? Yes, I listen all the time. Tried to change the station for years, but just doesn't happen often.

I'm so glad you had a good conference! And I'm glad you found a sign!

Love ya!

A Novel Woman said...

You know you're okay when a Pulitzer Prize winner admits that she too sometimes listens to Shit FM.

Love ya too!! And missed you terribly.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe! I was very sad to miss the conference this year, and I'm already looking forward to going in 2010. ;)

Trudy said...

That's an awesome sign!! I'm sorry I missed again this year, but I always keep up with your wonderful blog.

Um....what is Shit FM?

A Novel Woman said...

Hi Trudy!! We missed you this year, but it was another great conference.

Shit FM is that radio station playing in your head, the station that plays one tune only which goes "your work is crap, you're crap, why are you even writing, it's all CRAP!" If a Pulitzer Prize winning author occasionally admits to listening to that station, then it bodes well for the rest of us. The point is to turn it off and keep writing.

Lin Wang said...

It was my first year at the Conference this year, as a young writer. You may know me as the second place winner of the young writer's contest.

Lovely blog!

A Novel Woman said...

Hi Lin! Welcome.

Isn't the conference wonderful? I've been going for seven years now and I get something out of it each time.

Congratulations on your win. Well deserved as I'm sure you know, they are tough critics.

Hope to see you around!