Friday, August 21, 2009
Thinking BIG in Greenville, SC
Last week I had the privilege of being a part of the inaugural writers’ conference for AnAuthor World, a place and program in Greenville, SC. The co-founders Tim Davis and Pam Zollman opened the morning with welcoming comments. Tim, reflecting on his week at the Highlights Writers Workshop, said that he had learned to “Think BIG as a writer.” He introduced each one of the presenters with that adjective. As a result, I was the person with a “big vision” since my goal is to educate the next generation of writers. I think that may now be my favorite introduction!
Pam, a former Highlights editor, reminded the group that if we use an experience, it has to fit the story. She also recommended the book, Techniques of the Selling Writer, which anyone who is serious about the writing profession should check out.
Our keynote speaker was Vonda Skelton who reassured us all that we were a weird group of people. As we basked in those affirming sentiments, she relayed several personal events- some humorous, some tragic—and how in the middle of chaos she would stop and think, “This is a really good scene." As the author of both adult and children’s books, she apparently had learned how to mine her own life, as I instruct teachers in Teaching the Story. “Life is happening all around you. Everything in your book has happened or will happen,” Vonda stated. “Don’t waste anything.”
According to Vonda, there are four reasons why writers don’t write. I resonated with each:
1. Fear of failure. (oh yeah!)
2. Fear of success. Sounds crazy, but it’s the, “If I get a contract then I’ll have to write the book” fear or, “What if I write it and no one buys it?” fear. (or for me, “what if I write it and can’t find a publisher” fear. Very common ailment among writers.)
3. Fear of being transparent. Although good writing comes from hurts and disappointments, writers are afraid of letting these emotions show. (Ask me about the time I sat in the Chautauqua library trying to dig out my character’s motivation. I ran out of Kleenex.)
4. Fear of cost, commitment, and time. Writers shouldn’t expect brilliance at the first shot and wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. (In other words, the red pencil must be a writer’s best friend.)
I guess you can figure out why I resonated with Vonda. Our thinking about writing ran along similar tracks and I’m delighted to have made her acquaintance. Check out AnAuthor World’s events calendar--BIG things are happening in Greenville, SC. If you live within a 50 mile radius, are interested in writing or illustrating for children, and need more instruction or encouragement, this is the place to go.
AnAuthor World, Tim Davis, Pam Zollman, Vonda Skelton, Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8, Techniques of the Selling Writer