Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm baaaaack

Friend's surgery went very well yesterday, though it was a loooonnngggg day of waiting. She's resting comfortably now, watching the Master & Commander DVD, as any reasonably sane person would do.

So, SF Writers Conference. As I said in my personal LJ, your first writer's conference is scary (especially if you go on your own): agents, editors, so much to learn about the craft and the process. [East of Eden, 2005]

Your second writer's conference is great: you feel energized, knowledgeable, filled with pure possibility and not a little hubris. [SF Writers Conference, 2006]

Your third writer's conference is all about disillusionment: you see the same attendees, the same agents that rejected you last year, and who will do so again this year, doing the same schpiel about how you'll never get published, "but keep trying!" [SF Writers Conference, 2007]

I don't know what happened at this conference. By the time I was into my second session on Friday, I can't tell you how awful I felt. Everyone felt desperate, clutching, grasping. The sessions were snippets of harsh reality swathed in the gossamer of "but you could be the one to win the lottery!" Every agent and editor repeated over and over - your book could be the best book in the world, but if I don't "connect" with it then it won't get published. Agents give your MS 1-5 pages to see if they like it. After you've polished the hell out of it with your agent - if you get that lucky - and you're lucky enough to have an editor ask for the MS, they'll give it 1 page. Some infamous editors give it one sentence.

And it really hit me: being a goal-oriented overachiever, I turned the process of pitching my novels into an obsession and I completely lost the whole point: the joy of creating. As one of the presenters said (and he seemed to be the only one that made sense to me) - writing is a journey of personal discovery and development. Getting published is just gravy after that. My priorities got completely skewed - I started writing because it was an outlet for the creative energy building up in me, and I found that I loved it. Writing helps center me. But then I got obsessed with getting published.

So, all this long rambly post to say: SFWC 2007 was good for what it was, but not good for where I need to be in terms of being a creative person. I've taken a big step back so I can get recentered and focused on what really matters, and that's writing, and writing for me.

Jeez, aren't you glad you asked, LK? :)


  1. Yes, I AM glad I asked! I have been dealing with similar issues. I was going to ask you about the upcoming Jack London WC -- I am on the fence about going.

    I know that feeling you describe --being surrounded by the Desperate-to-be-Published energy.

    Over the years I've found that I do better when I just putter in my own little world, doing my thing. Then when I stick my head up and look around, I get a positive reaction.

    In other words, work on your writing with all your heart, and the agents will find you. To quote from Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come.

  2. I'm still going to the Jack London, mostly because Christopher Moore (Lamb) is the lunchtime keynote, and Daniel Handler (author of the Lemony Snicket books) is the breakfast keynote (their workshops look good, not spectacular but good:

    I think I got skewed when I was pitching my first novel - I got a lot of partials requests, and 10 full reads from some great agents (of course, they all had wildly different reasons for passing, just reinforcing how subjective the whole process is). So I figured - hey, no problem, this is pretty easy! My second novel hasn't had quite as much interest, so I think that bubble finally popped for me.

    I really love your advice about puttering in your own world. I just got to the point where I couldn't even work on my 3rd novel, because I was so worried about its "marketability". Bzuh? That's not why I started writing, WTF!?

  3. An old friend of mine, Sharon Shinn, wrote 10 books before she got published. Do a Google on her or go to and see how many she's got now!

    Keep the feelers out on your two books. I would think agents would be impressed that you have 2 to offer -- you're not a one-hit wonder. You are bound to hit the right agent at some point. And start on the third book in the meantime.

    Easier said than done, I know. I can barely get a short story knocked out these days!