Wow, another fabulous WRW retreat is over. Just like that, in the blink of an….zzzzzzzz….. ok, well, maybe my eyes didn’t stay closed for long enough this past weekend, but I sure did have a great time.
Somehow, this year I didn’t hear as many terrific talks as I usually do — I think I was pitching my work and then talking with Joyce Lamb through one of the talks I had wanted to attend. The good part is that I have been given the opportunity to send my work to an agent (always a Good Thing), and Joyce has promised to interview me for her amazing blog, Happily Ever After, at USA Today, (I’m so psyched!!!). I did, however, attend a few wonderful talks.
Kathy Gilles Seidel always gives a thoughtful talk at the retreat, and this year she was joined by Pam Regis, author of “A Natural History of the Romance Novel.” The talk was about the ritual death, aka black moment, in the romance novel, but I don’t see why what they said can’t be applied to any genre fiction. What they said really got me thinking, not actually so much about the black moment of my books, but about what they called the “markers” of ritual death — the foreshadowing of the ritual death, the lead up to the ritual death and the imagery that is used in these markers as well as in the black moment itself. This can be imagery of winter, of falling, darkness, being restrained, sadness or even depression. Using these words and imagery — and repeatedly, for we all know that you need to use something like this a number of times to really make it smack the reader upside their head — to build up to the ritual death andmake that moment in the book all the more powerful. So you know what I’m going to be working on this week in my WIP!
I also attended a very good talk by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, who spoke on the state of the publishing market right now — tons of great information I can’t wait to share with my next publishing class! Although I still find it amusing that all of the agents and editors at the retreat said over and over again, “Don’t follow the trends! Write a book you are passionate about. Write a book that will blow me away and I’ll buy it (from the editors)/sell it (from the agents) no matter what genre it is. But, these are the trends we are seeing currently….” and then they’d tell us. Why tell us if it doesn’t matter? Aren’t they just perpetuating the idea that we should write to these trends? It leaves me kind of scratching my head.
And, finally, there was Robyn Carr who gave the key note speech on Saturday night that literally had some people in tears — good tears! Tears of agreement. Tears saying yes, we know it’s hard; yes, this business sucks and if we could stop writing we would, but we can’t — we just can’t stop the voices, stop the characters who need their stories told, stop their nagging. Personally, it’s not the voices that are nagging at me, but the ideas. I have so many ideas for stories that sometimes I think I’m just going to explode if I don’t write them down. So, I write, which leads to too many other things which just reinforces what a dreadful, difficult business publishing is. As Robyn said, she wrote some of her best books after she quit. Well, naturally, she may have quit, and I think she said she did so a number of times, but you know she always came back — she had to.
However, Robyn did leave us with some inspiring thoughts, with which I will leave you this week:
“Ninety percent of being successful is working hard, showing up on time, and being nice to others.”
She told us to “write earnestly, honestly and fearlessly every single day.” And that, I think is the best advice I’ve heard in a long time.
Now, finally to sleep, for tomorrow I get back work, back to getting out that story that must be told and making it the best damn story I can write.