Friday, 4 June 2010

No conferring please?

Morning. I’m not much of a cook at breakfast, but I have just got back from the Champagne region, so help yourself to some fizz if you’re feeling decadent! I think my liver would rather I stuck to the coffee this morning…

I’ve spent the last few days disassembling and fighting my first two chapters, to send to the agents I have appointments with at the Winchester writers’ conference at the end of June. I’ve been going to this for the last five years, though only summoned the courage to make appointments for the last two! The advice I’ve received has varied, but some of it has been incredibly useful. Although the agents there don’t tend to be looking for science fiction I can usually find some that don’t refuse it completely, and it’s always terrifying good to hear what they think. I’m still mulling the advice from an editor there last year, who told me I had a much better chance of publication with a crime book…

Places like Winchester are also a great opportunity to meet other writers, but I wonder if going to lets of events becomes a displacement activity to avoid writing? I’ve attended a few different ones in the past, and now tend to only go to Winchester.

So my question is - have you attended courses, conferences, masterclasses etc and what did you think of them?


Karen said...

Ooh interesting question Denise. Let me take a slurp of coffee ...

I went to the Winchester conference a few years back, had a one-to-one with an agent (she liked my style but not the story!) and thoroughly enjoyed it, but haven't been back since. I felt I'd got everything out of it that I needed to be honest and couldn't really see the point of going again. What I DID love was being around like-minded people and feeling motivated by all the advice, but then I discovered t'Internet!

YES I was still procrastinating,
but at least I was at my computer so there was a chance I'd get some writing done too! (Much cheaper as well!)

I think going to events CAN become a displacement activity - I did it a lot that year, and what with all the organising and so on didn't really do much writing, but they are fun and rather addictive so I can understand why people go regularly.

I hope you have a great time anyway and good luck with your chapters - I'm intrigued by the sci-fi element :o)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Just tea for me, please.

Always wanted to go to conferences and writing courses but have never been able to afford it, so no :)

Oddly, after 7.5 unsold Harold and Jasfoup books, I'm just editing a crime novel -- Screaming Yellow -- which will be out at the end of the year. Biggest genre seller? Erotica. I've sold six erotica shorts, a novella (did anyone buy Leget's Despair?) and a novel this year alone.

Debs said...

I'm recovering from being treated to a lovely afternoon/evening yesterday, so definitely tea for me please.

I've just received my pack for the RNA Conference in July and can't wait to go. I've been quite a few times and love the classes and being able to catch up with people in person.

I also went to Caerleon last year, which was excellent too and learned so much from the talks and met the lovely Annie in person, which was great.

I did attend the Masterclass at the London Book Fair a couple of years ago and wish I could got to more events, but it's so expensive having to pay for flights on top of everything else.

Good luck at Winchester.

JJ Beattie said...

I'd love a glass of champagne but I won't because then I'll go to sleep and it's too early for that.

I'm doing an Arvon course this summer which I'm excited about but being in Thailand I'm not around much for courses and conferences. I'd love to attend more but yes, it's better to be writing.

I did a Skyros course for the writing bit a couple of years ago and I've done a couple of courses locally - I have an advanced travel writing course on Monday. One of the best things about doing a course is that it's nice to meet like minded people.

Rowan Coleman said...

I did half an MA in creative writing with Sue Gee at Middx. I left half way through to have my daughter and because I got a book deal in the mean time, but I really liked it, and I think I got a lot out of it. Meeting other writers, gaining from other peoples experience. I also enjoyed the academic side. I have run small writing workshops. What people tell me they enjoy about them most of all is having a set space to write and to focus their minds for an hour or two.

Chris Stovell said...

When I have been able to go to conferences I've found them brilliant for putting faces to names and making contacts, although I do have to summon up my courage before approaching folks I don't know very well!

This year I'm going to need buckets of courage because I'll be at the RNA conference on Saturday where I'll be on the Choc Lit Panel in the afternoon. I hope to catch up with some of you (Debs? Liz? Anyone else?)

Congratulations Rachel on your sales.

Fia said...

Hi Denise

Good question. Winchester will be my first time at any conference and I'm looking forward to meeting other writerly friends including sharing a cider with you :)

I'm less confident about my two one-to-ones because I have some nerve damage following an op so don't feel the work I submitted was in good shape. Thankfully a good friend helped me fix what was fixable.

Wow! Rachel, fantastic news. Very well deserved.

Ellie said...

I've only been to conferences for work (i.e. medical/science ones) not for writing unfortunately. I'd love to do a course or something too, but have never quite found the time! I always read everyone's posts about RNA events etc with great interest though, so I'm looking forward to all your reports over the next few months.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The bottom line : You never know. A lot depends upon hitting the right agent at the right time. But isn't it the same way with a query?

Going to a conference at least gives you a personal slant to your presentation. And you learn from fellow strugglers.

I wish you luck in your publishing dreams. Roland

Lane said...

Hi Denise (or should I call you Bamber or Jeremy?:-)

I've never been to a conference. I would love to go for the experience and to mingle with other writers.
To those going to Winchester - good luck and have fun.

And Rachel - wow! Well done. And it's only just June.

Annieye said...

I found Caerleon uplifting and friendly (and it was lovely meeting Debs and her mum last year). I'm not going this year though. I've never been a member of a writing group, but I think I'd like to try it.

I'm going to Northampton Library next Thursday to hear the talk by Judith Allnatt (The Poet's Wife). I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully I'll meet a few more local writers there.

I don't think going to events is a displacement activity. I think it's an enjoyable and necessary part of being a writer.

And Denise - I'm really looking forward to 2nd July!!!

LilyS said...

I attended a 1 day freelance writing course about 5 years ago and as 2 people cancelled i was the only student there so in a way i was dissapointed not to meet any like minded people but i got the undivided attention of the tutor. The course was brilliant and did loads for my confidence.

Captain Black said...

I've been to Writers' Holiday at Caerleon twice and enjoyed it both times. The community spirit among writers is a very powerful and inspiring thing. I remain disillusioned about courses though, brilliant as they were. Their attempt to formalise and formulate the writing process has ended up having a negative effect on me. Ironic as I'm very analytical by nature.

Congratulations on your sales, Rachel. Well done indeed.

Leigh Russell said...

Hmmm... I'm definitely feeling decadent....
I was in Winchester recently, signing at Waterstones, and will be back there signing on 20th December, hoping to catch the Christmas rush!
The only conference I've been to was CrimeFest in Bristol, where I spoke on two panels and gave an individual talk, all in the space of 2 days, so it was busy! And great fun.
I'd say science fiction is as popular as crime, from my observation of readers in bookshops - but that's just an uninformed impression.

Denise said...

Thanks for all the replies, interesting to hear about some of the courses and holidays that I may be tempted by in the future...

Looks like you're in for a fantastic year Rachel!

Eeleen Lee said...

conferences and workshops are great, but I don't know of writers who go to avoid writing

I tend to go for the free food