Saturday, April 28, 2007

Important Moments in Writers' Conference History

by Cathy Anderson Corn

Attending writers' conferences has enriched my life, and I love listening to the people who make publishing happen. The whole process fascinates me, from paper and pens to computers and literary agencies. In that spirit, let us examine pitching experiences to agents and editors in my past conferences.

My first conference, the Pennwriters. I've completed a science fiction novel and have an appointment with a sci fi editor. I am clueless, completely terrified, and cannot speak in complete sentences. I clutch an index card with notes on it. She asks questions and shoots down my novel. I go away less terrified and mostly humbled.

Several conferences later, I attend the Columbus Writers' Conference. I'm to see an editor for my appointment for a paranormal mystery. As I walk into the room, I hear a woman talking with a big guy at a table in the back. She says, "Don't worry, it'll be fine. You'll do a great job." "It's his first conference," she says to me.

The editor is more terrified than I am, but he makes an amazing recovery and is helpful about my book proposal. His only fault is that he doesn't offer to publish my book for $100,000. This conference still humbled me, but I had some fun, too.

Let's skip to the Pennwriters Conference of two years ago. My burning need to make money as a novelist urges me to become vulnerable to the forces of publishing. My appointment with a big agent nearly reduces me to tears. Not only does he not recognize Great Talent, but I can't even understand his critique (others experience this, too, to their great delight).

The read and critique group at this conference should have been renamed "read and trash group," as that's what they do with my two pages of manuscript. Two of the three authors are so viscious I want to dim the lights to see if their red eyes glow in the dark.

There may have been more, but amnesia has gratefully taken over to salvage my mangled ego. At this conference I wasn't so much humbled as crucified.

Last year I attended no conferences.

The Pennwriters Conference this year is May 18-20, and yes, I'll be there. I'll enjoy the company of writers, learn lots, even speak with an agent or editor. But my cavalier attitude will see me through the rough spots, for in my inner knowing, that which I seek will be found elsewhere.

In the spirit of The Law of Attraction and other books on making your life what you want it to be, I realize I can call upon the bounty of the universe to get me where I'm going. No more struggles and humiliations, no more anti-perspirant failure. After all, my thoughts determine my world and what is in it.

Check back later for an updated blog: Gonna Manifest Me an Agent. This should be the most fun of all and will prove that history need not repeat itself.


Anonymous said...

Cathy, the problem with the books on manifestation is that they don't take into account readiness. By going through out "crucification" experiences we come face to face with out demons and become ready for the resurrection, when it comes.

Just think, we're both getting readier and readier to be published after each conference we experience! I'd like to say I can't wait, but I have to, because the only other alternative is to give up.

Also, I'm a big advocate of having a good laugh along the way. It makes the waiting that much more bearable.

Anonymous said...

Cathy -
Ignore what Tory says -- can you manifest me an agent, too?

I've had similar experiences with conferences. I didn't even bother to go to Pennwriters last year. It's discouraging when a agent asks to see your work, then obviously doesn't even bother to look at it before the rejection. Case in point: I pitched one of my manuscripts, a very violent story told from a perpetrator's perspective. The first 50 pages include robbery, torture and hostage-taking (not to mention casual sex and drunk driving), all graphic. The agent asked to see the first 50 pages, then rejected it because she doesn't represent cozies!!!! And the read-and-critique session -- I won't even go there.

Still, hope springs eternal. I'll see you at Pennwriters conference next month.

Anonymous said...

The book I'm reading now, Ask and It Is Given, does address readiness, and in a big way. They call it "allowing" and say we don't allow our requests or good to come to us. Then they give pages of exercises to help the reader allow their good. They also use the word "resistance." I find it all so interesting.

Not giving up helps, too. And lots of laughing.

Do you want a male or female agent? Let me know about age and hair color.

One good thing about read and critique groups: that's where I met Nancy Martin, who encouraged me to try Sisters, and here I am!

Anonymous said...

Cathy -
Make that one effective agent, no preference on gender, age, ethnicity, or physical characteristics (although it might be nice if she/he/it is not currently in prison . . .)

Anonymous said...

I'll be attending the Pennwriters conference next month for the first time. I wonder... will I get a special badge that says "conference-virgin/handle-with-care" ?

Anonymous said...

JRenee: No special nametags, but come to the Sisters in Crime "Meet and Greet" on Saturday evening (I forget the exact time but there's an ad in the conference program that tells when and where.) You'll get to meet our bloggers and swap war stories!

Joyce Tremel said...

Hi Jodi! Definitely come to the meet and greet.

I've had only good conference experiences. But I have to add that I am SO glad I don't have to pitch this time! I'm never able to say anything coherent.