Although Norwescon 39 was not my first con, it was my first con specific aimed at writing. And I must say that it was worth every penny and every second of my time. First of all, pretty much every panel I attended was not only informative but all the authors there were totally accessible. They were so open to strangers coming up and saying hi and also answering any questions we had. They helped me narrow down my pitch for Pandora’s Chase, they answered tons of publishing questions, and of course the writing tips were amazing.
If you’re a new/young writer. The best advice I can give you is to attend writer conferences, meet as many people as you can there, ask as many questions as you can and definitely don’t use anything you learn as a must-do rule but instead as a must-try-and-see-if-it-works-for-me rule. If it works, do it until it doesn’t anymore then try another thing.
For me, the best things I learned were to keep at submitting and don’t get discouraged, try writing an outline before the story (this is tough because I’m a discovery writer by nature), and my favorite thing I learned is that I might be better served writing short fiction along side my long fiction. I want to add this to my writing life because with short fiction, I can work on singular things and get better at one thing at a time whereas trying this in long form writing might be a bit too difficult to keep track of all the things I want to learn. For example, if I want to explore the ominous point of view, I can write a story where I’m focused really hard on nailing that down. Other things can fall to the way side a bit but at leas that will get improved. Then the next story maybe it will be exploring how to write from the female point of view or a different race. This way, when I start a new story, I’ll have fresh skillz to wield at the page for a better outcome. Make sense? I think so.
Oh…and I met the wicked awesome Steven Barnes! If you don’t know him, he did a lot of collaborative work with Larry Niven and ton of great works of his own too. That was one of funnest most high octane conversations I’ve ever had and the great piece of advice I got from him was this; write what you want to write.
If you think about it, it’s incredibly true. If you try to write what the market is asking for, there will be passion missing from that particular piece that would otherwise be there had you written the thing you wanted to write. When I talk about ‘the thing you wanted to write’, I’m talking about that story in your head that is burning a hole into your brain. That story is either going to come out or it’s going to make a comfortable bed inside your head and live there permanently annoying you. The only way to get it out is to….you guessed it…get it out. Write that story and you’ll never go wrong!!
Another reason not to write to the market is that the market is always changing. Say you write a vampire story cuz some movie came out and everyone is hot for vampires. I know I know this will never happen but lets say it did. It’s going to take you a long time to write the story and even longer to get it published. By the time it hits the shelves the market will probably be calling for something else. Live werewolves or something. Now you’re stuck with a vampire story you don’t love and no one will want to read. Not good.
If you write want you want to write, then the story will be better for it and everyone who reads it will see in there the passion you had for it and that is far better than taking a risk on writing something you don’t really want to write cuz you think it will sell.
Boom, now you’re smarter and me too so lets go write something awesome.
Writing Prompt if you dare. And if you do, please send it to me! Your spouse is an avid yet unsuccessful inventor and you come home to find their shop disheveled and they’re missing. But there’s a note and it reads, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do it. It happens in five days. Goodbye my love.”