There are a lot of advantages to attending the Dreamspinner Writers Workshop in Orlando, from panels to meetings, insights into the publishing side of things and networking. There was also a pond with gators in it at, but that just have been a big part of the appeal for me.
One of the major advantages though, at least for me, is just meeting all the other authors. Not just meeting the faces behind some of your favourite books and series, although it was cool to meet C.S Poe in person, but just hanging out with people who think about writing as much as you do.
Writing can be a very solitary art form, and one that it can be hard to talk to people about. Visual artists and crafters can show a concrete thing at any part in the process, a sketch or a half-finished piece of pottery. Musicians can just hum a few bars or play you a recording.
It’s harder for writers. Trust me, the summary of a novel length work you’ve been working on for weeks doesn’t sound nearly as impressive to a non-writer. Oh, and without context the absolutely masterful line that had you either giggling or weeping as appropriate? Well, let’s just say that it’s the epitome of ‘you had to be there’. Until you have an ACTUAL BOOK (or arc) to show non-writers they tend to be a bit ‘huh’ about it.
“I wrote 2000 words today! Finished the first part of the plot arc!”
“Really? Is that all?”
So it’s always cool when you have other writers to talk too. Not only is it fun — although it is! — but it’s great to get that affirmation that your life choices are not insane (or at least that it’s a shared insanity) and that staying up until three in the morning writing when you have work the next day is understandable.
Best of all though, is that being around that many creative people is like rocket fuel to your creativity. OK, some of them are amazing enough writers that they also make me want to prostrate myself at their feet, but even that works as a challenge to my creative process. Four days of talking about writing, books, characters, the horrors of writers block, and the fact that the staff at the hotel accidentally stole a pair of my knickers…and I come away revived, invigorated, and ready to write.
I mean, OK, I will admit that my escapee otter that finds (or is it…causes) crime scenes and the animal handlers that have to clear his name idea might be a bit…out of the box. Is there REALLY anything wrong with that though?
There might be, to be fair, but I still have a dozen other great/loopy ideas that I can toss in the plot tumbler and see what survives. Most of them won’t, of course. There’s a lot of population attrition for plot bunnies when it comes time to make novel stew. Still, I fancy at least two of them might have legs.
I’m already looking forward to next year.