Wow. I can’t believe how time gets away from me. It’s already been over 2 weeks since I attended the Central Coast Writers Conference. I’m not going to rant about the passage of time – been there, done that, will probably do it again.
But not now. Now I’m going to give the report on the Conference that I promised.
It was my second year at the CCWC, and, like all conferences are for me, quite a roller-coaster ride.
This day-and-a-half conference is held in gorgeous San Luis Obispo, CA, which is a thriving university town and my old stomping grounds. Its community college, Cuesta College, provides just the right setting for the examination and promotion of the literary craft.
The keynote speaker this year was renowned blogger and uber-agent Nathan Bransford of the Curtis Brown Literary Agency. His positive message to the audience was upstaged only by his open and friendly manner. The Nathan I saw at the podium was the Nathan I’ve seen in his blog – helpful, caring, supportive – EXCEPT he was in 3-D!!
Couldn’t get any better.
The first session was Friday evening after the keynote. And that’s where my car on the rollercoaster dropped out from under me, leaving my stomach in my throat. When the industry professional read the opening from my unpublished novel, Watcher, she started out by complimenting me on my writing. But halfway through my piece, she derailed my elation when she commented that present tense doesn’t work, that no one likes to read it and no publisher will buy it, and that I should re-write my novel.
The audience protested on my behalf, shouting out, “What about The Hunger Games?” Her response was that she hadn’t heard of it, nor of any of the other recently-published titles that the audience continued to mutter.
All I could think about was the gargantuan task of re-writing a first-person present-tense novel (and its half-written sequel) in past-tense.
Yet the nausea continued to grip me as I thought about the last year-and-a-half of my life that I’ve dedicated to this story. A story that refused to be written in third person, or past-tense. A story with a character that insisted on telling it HER way, writer be damned.
And so I went home, deflated, angry that once again an industry professional had dashed my hopes against the hard rock of publishing reality.
The same thing happened at last year’s conference. Different professional, different reason. But I listened to her, and made her recommended changes, and improved my story.
But re-writing the whole thing? That was going to take some deep thought.
(to be continued)