Wordy Wednesday (“Writer’s Digest Conference 2013, Notes Part 4”)

Goodness, I feel like I have an affinity for feeling like crap, lately. I was sick last week, I had a really wretched headache a couple of days ago, and today I’ve basically just been lying in bed, popping Tylenol and attempting to sleep. And it’s stupid, because I actually feel guilty right now for feeling so crappy, because I’m a baby when it comes to all this sick-kind-of-stuff, and therefore I basically just shut down for the day the moment I feel bad AT ALL.

Which means I have turned into a unproductive slug this past week. And I have so much to do right now (namely trying to find a way to make space for all my college stuff, plus cleaning my Hoarders-worthy bedroom, plus actually, you know, WRITING). And instead of doing any of that, I’ve just been sleeping for thirteen hours a day and filling the rest of my time with HGTV.

In the small pockets of time that I have been productive during the past week, I have done the following things:

  • Fed the cat. Played with the dog. Neither of which are actually very productive activities (they just make me feel like I’m doing something).
  • Done the dishes/cleaned the kitchen/cleaned the bathroom (these are my excuses for not doing anything that actually needs to get done).
  • Read writing from back in middle school (I have a sincere fascination with the way I actually have basically not improved at writing at all since the seventh grade).
  • Eaten lots of really bad foods. Like donuts and pizza and other greasy things (I tried to eat a salad last night… “tried” being the operative word).
  • Dyed my hair. (You voted. It happened.)

Snapshot_20130507_13Unfortunately, this one act of productiveness has led to a severe increase in the number of times per day I burst out in song instead of doing other productive activities, because I like to pretend I look like the Little Mermaid now.

But anyway, I’m going to stop boring you with my state of slug-ness now, and actually let’cha get to what you came for: the final installment of my Writer’s Digest Conference East 2013 notes. Yay!

If you haven’t read my notes from the past few weeks, you can check them out by following the following links:

Part 1: Going from Aspiring Writer to Published Author

Part 2: Publishing Short Stories

Part 3: Perfecting Your Craft

This week’s topic is Keynote Addresses of Greatness. I say “of greatness” because they were all basically totally awesome–hopefully my notes detailing them manage to inspire you even a smidgen of the amount I was inspired by the speakers in person.

(Unfortunately, though, I don’t have any notes on the Opening Keynote Address from Friday evening, with James Scott Bell, because we got to the conference late despite our mad dash from the airport, and I couldn’t grab out my notebook to take notes without disturbing all the other writers in the room–and, believe me, those people have sharp pencils and an advanced knowledge of different ways of doing away with people. So I wasn’t going to rock the boat.)

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Saturday Keynote Address [4-6-13]

Speaker: Adriana Trigiani

          Examine how books are displayed in the bookstore; check the agents of your favorite authors. Those are who you should be targeting.

          Your story is waiting to be read—it’s your job to get it read.

          Confidence comes from a stranger reading your book, not your friend.

          Find a writer’s group—but if there’s bad energy, get out.

          “You’re artists. Use your art.”

          Feel free to start your OWN writer’s group if yours is bad.

          You get one shot at this—you’ve gotta get it done

          You get discovered because you WANT to get discovered.

          If you want the lit world to invest in you, you have to invest attention in them—make friends with your indie bookstore owners, libraries, etc.

          It’s about the readers, not the Twitter followers

          The author is SERVING THE READER

          Playwriting—have to join drama guild, find a director who loves our work

          Fun fact: Sea green is the in color this year

          Titles are like shoes; you’ve gotta try a lot on before you find one that fits

          If you’re burning out, it’s because you’re working too much

          Revise at the end

          You’re young—look for the agent who is the older version of you

          “Words are living things.”

*****

Closing Keynote Address [4-7-13]

Speaker: Tayari Jones

          You have EVERYTHING you need to be a writer

          Information is power—subscribe to all the writer mags

          Being a writer has NEVER been easy

          This business is for the persistent, inspired, brave, and crazy

          Being scared to chase your dreams, so you just don’t do anything instead, is “the emotional equivalent of looting in your own street.”

          “Once you commit to igniting your creativity and passion, doors will open for you.”

          You have to take chances—you have to be brave enough to take chances

          The writer’s life is seeing how good you are at rebuilding

          “The water has been spilled, but the pitcher isn’t broken”—there’s always more opportunity for the future.

          “Publish or perish”—motto for how to be an author

          You gotta get your work done—once you’ve done your part, the world will do the rest.

          The energy you put out there in life is the energy you get back

          Depending on proving the haters/detractors wrong in order to get your motivation is like eating candy for dinner—you’ll have energy for a minute, but then you’ll crash.

          “I want to be paid for my writing. We all do. But I don’t want to write for money.”

          Don’t be intimidated by anything, least of all your own career.

          Learn to love the challenges.

          You don’t need to have a lot of time to be a writer—you just need SOME time. You just need to TAKE the time.

          Set reasonable goals.

          MFA programs—go where you can get financial aid.

          Find a mentor. Best way to do that: be open to being a good mentee.

          Grants and awards like grants and awards; get one, and they build on one another.

          Check out “Grants and Awards Available to American Writers.”

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… And that’s it! That’s all my notes! We’re finally finished!

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I know. I never thought this day would come either.

You know what that means? It’s the return of our weekly Wordy Wednesday voting process! You know what to do.

Talk to you later!

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~Julia

WDC Weekend: Home Again

I. Am. So. Tired.

If I wake up again before the end of the semester, it will be a miracle.

I know this is like a five second post, but I am exhausted (if I didn’t already mention that) and I wanted to let y’all know I made it home safely.

And came home to this:

fandalizedTHANK YOU SO MUCH, HANNAH!

And yeah. Time to go tackle that Spanish homework I’ve been putting off all weekend, and I’ll see if I can start typing up conference notes for this Wordy Wednesday. Sound good?

¡Buenas noches!

~Julia

WDC Weekend: Sunday Morning Sleepiness

Sunday morning is always the hardest part of WDC. You’ve already been sitting in sessions for the past two days, you generally are completely sleep deprived, and you know you’re going to have to leave in a few hours for the airport to go back to your fabulous, ordinary life away from the magic of New York City and all the gazillion writers you just got to share air with for the past two days.

Plus, if you’re a freshman in college like me, going back to real life also means going back to the last two weeks of classes and then FINALS! WHOO! (On the upside, UMich is going to the championship game tomorrow, so the campus is basically going to be crazy with energy all day. Which will be great for keeping me awake through Spanish class.)

We’ve got just the closing keynote address left, then we’re going to go do a little more sightseeing around Rockefeller and such, and then it’s off to the airport. And even though I should really work on the plane, I’m thinking there’s a nice long nap in my future.

After I posted yesterday, we had a couple more sessions, then we went out to dinner at this super schmancy Italian restaurant (which had absolutely DELICIOUS sauce on their pasta pomodoro), and then we saw Newsies on Broadway, which was as fantastic as is to be expected. (The dancing, the set, the very attractive actors–Julia was one happy theatre-goer.) It was Broadway Cares night, which I swear I have an uncanny affinity for attending (this was my third time attending a Broadway Cares night in, I think, the past four shows I’ve gone to), and they were selling some really AWESOME merchandise to raise money for it, including copies of the playbill signed by the entire cast.

If you didn’t know, I have the absolute best mother in the whole wide world. I didn’t even have to beg her all that much before she forked over the cash for the playbill. (Which reminds me–Hero, I got cast autographs for you. Including from some of the principles. You’re welcome.)

I’m going to be posting more pictures from throughout the weekend on my Facebook page, so make sure to go like it if you haven’t already. (And if you don’t have FB, you can still view the page, so that works too! Yay!)

The closing keynote is about to start–talk to you later!

 

~Julia

WDC Weekend: Pitch Slam Recap

After rushing to get ready this morning and receiving some unwelcome surprises (hello, allergies, I missed you this winter too!), we all finally made it to the first session this morning. And it’s basically just been a whirlwind since then, going between sessions, practicing our pitches, and then finally: THE PITCH SLAM. (You have to read that in a really deep, dramatic movie-announcer voice.)

The Slam is basically the most nerve-wracking thing on the planet. This was my third year doing it, and I still had a mini panic attack before speaking to each of the eleven agents I got to. It was also totally fun though, because I pitched in a completely different way this year than I have in the past, and it made it a lot more free flow and fun (instead of having a really set query letter-style pitch that I just read to the agents, I gave them my elevator pitch from memory and then just winged it from there). Plus: I had the opportunity during the Pitch Slam to meet one of my writing friends in person, the super cool Joan (who has great boots, by the way). Read her blog here.

We ran into each other on accident, as I was leaving one agent’s table and cutting between another agent’s line and her table, and Joan happened to be in that line. She recognized me, we freaked out, and it was awesome. 🙂

(Sorry if this post at all seems like it’s kind of all over the place. I’m only half-aware of what I’m doing right now, because I’m still coming off my adrenaline high from the Pitch Slam, and I’ve gotta leave for the next session in a minute.)

So anyway: the Pitch Slam. I got to talk to eleven agents (which is a really high number for WDC–most people only get to talk to three or five–but my mom’s awesome and acts as a placeholder for me in the lines so I get to talk to more). Of those eleven agents, I got requests from ALL ELEVEN. And I am now about to go pass out from happiness and nerves and excitement and AHHHHH. 😀

… Off to the next session, now. Talk to you soon!

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~Julia

WDC Weekend: We’re at the Conference!

It’s 12:11 AM, I am absolutely exhausted, and the first day of the conference is done. Basic overview of the day:

After posting this morning, I scampered off to Spanish class to sit through an hour of la gramática, and then skipped and jumped and danced on my way back to the dorm, because I was Free! Free! For the whole weekend! To go to New York City, my favorite place on earth, and interact with other writers!

Did some last minute packing, managed to jam/possibly dislocate my right pinky finger on my hall’s bathroom door (no worries, like all cool people I’m left-handed), and then Madre picked me up and we drove to the airport. Where we had a very tasty and deep-fat-fried lunch:

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Afterward, we headed off to get on the plane. Only, apparently, there was some mix up about which gate our plane was boarding at, so we had to rush off and find the new gate. And then, at the new gate, they informed us that the intercom system was broken on the plane, so they were finding us a new plane instead. So then they herded us all back to the original gate, where the new plane was going to load. Except, then, apparently they managed to fix the plane with the broken intercom, and we all had to go back to THAT gate. At which point we all started getting that nervous crawling feeling because the gate claimed that the plane loading there was going to Baltimore, not New York City. At which point the very kind and patient airport workers informed us that they had indeed fixed the plane, that was indeed the right gate, and it was indeed going to NYC.

On the plane, Madre and I took lots of fabulous selfies. A sampling of my personal favorites:

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At the airport, we reunited with my writing-parner-in-crime, Mel, and then took a cab to the hotel, at which point we realized that Writer’s Digest Conference in January is far different from Writer’s Digest Conference in April. As in: There are. So many. People here. The hotel is basically flooded, because not only are there three different conferences going on at it right now, but there are also a ton of people here for WrestleMania, and spring break, and there are all sorts of fancy rich school groups, and whoa. Lots’a people.

The first few sessions were as fantastic as always (there’s a reason I love WDC so much and keep going back year after year), and then afterward we checked into the hotel, at which point they told us they had run out of the type of room we had reserved, and instead let us have free wi-fi for the day (score!), and–get this–a corner room. That you can actually see part of Times Square from. OH MY GOSH.

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Sorry for the blurriness. I suck at taking pictures when it’s dark out.

We settled in, had fun playing with the bed (it folds into the wall):

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Disclaimer: Nobody was harmed in the taking of this photo.

… And then we ventured into the city! (At which point my camera died, because my battery has the lifespan of a jar of Nutella in a room of hungry college students, and therefore I have no pictures from our adventures beyond the walls of the hotel.)

We explored Times Square, ate some very delicious New York style pizza at Ray’s, and then got dessert at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. And then came back, and now we’re sitting in our fancy schmanzy hotel room, Mel and I blogging while my mom looks at us like we’re crazy people. Which is probably true, but oh well.

Because seriously: We are currently at the Writer’s Digest Conference, the most wondrous conference ever. In New York City, the most magical place on earth.

‘Night!

~Julia

PS. Check out Mel’s blog for some detailed evaluations on the mental states of the magical creatures (*cough* not-quite-normal but all very average humans) we’ve encountered so far!

PPS. Check out Joan’s blog for more conference fun!

PPPS. Reminder that I’m going to be posting my notes from all the various sessions after the conference is over, and throughout the conference I’ll be continuing to blog about what’s going on, so stay tuned for more!