A week ago I attended a writing conference in Eden, Utah. It was different from the writing conference I attended last March; different format, different atmosphere, different setting. Still, it was very educational and informative.
While March’s conference stressed the craft of writing, this conference was focused almost totally on the business side of writing. I learned a great deal from the conference last spring - information that I tried to incorporate into my book to make it more interesting, more correct, and with better prose. But I was ready, by the time the Eden Conference rolled around, for the business aspects of my chosen profession. Does ‘chosen profession’ sound odd to those of you who have known me in other roles? –As a mother, a teacher, a genealogist, a gardener, a caregiver, a conservator/guardian, a landlord, or any of the other myriad hats I’ve worn throughout the years?
I’ll admit, I’ve done many things in my life. But underlying everything else has been the dream I’ve had since I was a child-to be a writer. However, as the Preacher said, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, so it is with me. My season of child bearing is long since over. With six of my eight children married, the seventh in his twenties and the eighth a senior in high school, my days of child rearing are nearly at an end, also. Since those two seasons are practically past, there is a lot more time to devote to what I’ve wanted to do for many, many years.
It’s not that I haven’t done anything in the writing field during those years. I sold the only story I ever submitted for publication. I won first place with another in a Chicagoland writing contest. I’ve written poetry occasionally, but it’s been very sporadic - more for my own entertainment than anything else although I’ll have to plead guilty to occasionally writing satirical poetry when I’ve been really disgusted about something. I’ve written road shows, songs (music and lyrics), an Easter anthem (again, music and lyrics) and letters. Myriads of letters. Long letters. Detailed letters. Letters that delighted some and sent others to their computers begging me to not send such long letters. (Sorry Charlie - I send form letters. . .as in one generic letter tailored to you after I write it. . .and if you want me to write something different just for you, s.o.l. Don’t have time.)
Attitude? Yes, I definitely have one. Busy woman? Yes, again definitely. Have time to meet the demands of persnickety readers? Not recently. End of discussion.
And so it goes. These past two months have been devoted, almost exclusively, to finishing and polishing my book. Writing is not easy. In fact, it’s just plain hard work. Work that has nothing to do with physical labor. Work that is almost entirely mental. Work that is, nevertheless, very exhausting at times. Frequently I feel completely wrung out, drained both physically and mentally.
I want to thank Chris and Sue and Nancy for their help and support. Last spring Sue sent one chapter back with the comment, "Mother, this sounds like a history text. You need to rewrite it." Her comment sent me on a lovely vacation with Dad where I personally visited the places I had written about, videoing and taking copious notes about the terrain. I don’t believe that chapter sounds like a history text any longer. :)
Chris is now reading--and re- reading for me. He has pointed out portions where my descriptions sound like a woman’s writing. Since my book is written in first person from a male point of view, comments from Chris are very welcomed. Yes, I can see that he is totally correct. I so wanted to share the experience that I tended to get a tad flowery. Gotta watch that. I also rely on Chris for critical critiquing. He’s a very intelligent - and critical - reader with whom I’ve had many enjoyable discussions on various writer’s skills and techniques.
Nancy has been a steady support. Her familiarity with the ranch I wrote about as well as the general area involved has made her enjoyment of my work a thing of encouragement to me. Any writer feels discouraged at times. Nancy, Chris and Sue telling me my book is a good read, an interesting story, has helped so much.
Now that the rewrites are almost over, it’s time to draft a query letter and start searching for an agent. Am I excited? Not even! It’s so much easier to write a good story than it is to write a query letter or a synopsis. I know how to write stories. I know how to write clear, easily understood prose that paints such a picture that the reader feels he’s there. But this query business. . . . . . . how in the world do you condense the essence of a book into one paragraph? OHMIGOSH! Tomorrow is gonna be a loooooooooooooooong, looooooooooooooooong day.
Before I close this blog, however, I do want to include a few photos. Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? So I post photos and don’t have to write so much. . . . Or something like that.
These are a couple of photos I snapped on the way home from Eden. Eden is a little valley high up in the Wasatch mountains northeast of Ogden. It's a ski resort in the winter. Heaven only knows what those folks do in the summer. But the town boasts a good writer's group - some of them very talented, from my point of view.
The lodge where we stayed was rustic. The counter in my bath was about five inches thick - cut from a log with the bark still attached. Highly polished and very beautiful. The roof in the foyer is held up by a tree trunk that's a good three feet through and some twenty feet high - all the branches cut off within 3 or 4 inches of the trunk. And it was beautiful. Expensive? Not too bad. My room was $89 for two queen sized beds.
Anyhow, I enjoyed myself, learned a lot, and snapped these photos of the canyon on my way back to Ogden. (Remember, double left click and they're monitor sized.)Note the storm rolling in. I hit snow on I-15 and I mean SNOW! Very thick, very wet, and accompanied by a STRONG wind. First snow storm of the season. I can't wait for winter! (Actually, I can't wait for spring. Forget winter. I've had my one snowstorm for the season. Now I'm ready for tulips and daffodils. Anybody got any suggestions of how I'm going to indulge that fantasy?)
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