Three days after getting back from Penguicon and I’m still processing a lot of the information I learned. It amazes me, that as long as I’ve been writing that there is so much I can still learn. Also, that no matter how much some professional authors know, they can still be humble enough to learn something and share in the conversation with both questions and answers.
The basics are called the basics because that is where the foundation of storytelling begins. Sometimes we forget to work on the basics and to keep them fresh in our heads. One of the most enlightening panels I went to was about such basics. “Turning off the Inner Editor” opened my eyes to some of the things I’ve been doing to hinder my writing. The basic premise of ‘write what you know’ and ‘just get it on the page’ are old mantras I try to stick to. But that inner perfectionist often has other ideas. Why, I remember taking one year just to get through four chapters of one book. At that pace, I ended up wasting a lot of time perfecting prose that later had to be cut in order to preserve the overall story arc. Not time well spent. NYT best-selling author Brandon Sanderson recommends writing from beginning to end with little time spent looking back until the piece is finished. Even Jim C. Hines agreed that it was very important to push on to the end of the story before trying to fix the beginning, since often the beginning is normally cut or changed to work with the ending. To me this was a revelation. All these years, as stated earlier, I’ve perfected each chapter as I’ve went re-working and re-drafting as I moved forward. And now I see why my last book took me ten years to complete.
The importance of critique groups was another wonderful panel me and many others from my writer’s group attended. We all found it informative enough we gleaned some ideas on how to make our group better. We also had many laughs at the expense of our roughest cut member who conveniently missed the part of the panel where they discussed how to be nice when critiquing.
The comradely amongst fans and authors amazed me. As I’ve stated on here before, writing is a very solitary profession and I’m very reclusive by nature. To be surrounded by so many people who are so accepting and supportive allowed me to walk amongst a group of people with little tension or negative thoughts from my social anxiety disorder. Brandon Sanderson was kind enough to watch my things while I ran up to my room–no judgement or harsh statements did he make. Something I would never have expected in any other environment or around other people.
If you ever get the chance to attend a Sci-Fi convention then I hope you do. There is so much to learn and even more to see. The variety and quality of costumes surpass anything I’ve seen in a nonprofessional environment. And as stated before, the friendliness amongst those who share the same passion about genre is unsurpassed.