Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writer's Day L.A.

Last weekend I got a dose of inspiration when I attended the L.A. Writer's Days. The two regional advisors, Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind, put together an exceptional group of presenters. And I got to meet fellow blogger Tricia O'Brien. Bonus! I'm so glad I got to go.

One of my favorite Santa Barbara writers, Lee Wardlaw, talked about the fact that her most recent book, Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, was rejected by seven editors over three years. That book, which my daughter proudly owns, is now in its fourth printing and has won scads of awards including the 2012 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the 2011 SLJ Best Books of the Year. Lee said something that resonated with me:

"I'm thankful for all those rejections. Because those editors wouldn't have loved it enough to see it through acquisition meetings, marketing, finding the right illustrator... If it hadn't been rejected, it wouldn't have become the book that it is."

Photo of Stacey, Michael & Sara by Rita Crayon Huang
Agent Michael Bourret spoke on a panel with editor Stacey Barney (Putnam/Penguin) and debut author Sara Wilson Etienne. The synergy between the three of them was beautiful to witness and I kid you not -- as soon as their panel finished talking, all of Sara's books were gone within a matter of minutes. They were that good.

I could write several posts just based on the things they talked about, but here's one thing that really stuck with me. Sara wrote the first draft of her book, Harbinger, ten years ago. There was no dialogue, only one character and the entire novel was about 90 pages long. She didn't know what to do with it so she put it away for a few years. She worked on it some more, took it to an SCBWI conference and got good feedback on it from an editor there. She worked on it for almost two more years before sending it to Michael Bourret. And then, when he took it on, they revised it together for another year.

I can't even begin to tell you how much this encouraged me. I am a SLOW writer. I get impatient with myself, frustrated because I can't whip out a novel in six months, let alone in the month of November. Some edits are easy. Others have to go round my brain for a while before they solidify. Knowing that there are other slow pokes like me who take their time and still manage to make their debut and make it big, was incredibly inspiring.

People ask me all the time if I think it's worth the money to go to a conference. When you come away inspired to keep at it, excited to lock yourself away and sit in front of a glowing screen, I'd say it's definitely worth it.

11 comments:

Kristan Hoffman said...

Yay for us slow pokes! Sometimes I read about writers who can whip out their drafts in 9 days or 2 weeks or whatever, and I kind of want to die. It's taken me a long time to accept with my pace, and even so, being at peace with it is not the same as being happy about it.

So what I'm saying is, this helps me too. Every story about a slow writer helps me too. Thanks for sharing. So glad you enjoyed yourself and found some inspiration! :)

leewardlaw said...

I'm slow too, Sherrie! There is no 'right' way. You've gotta write the way you write...

So glad you enjoyed the conference. I did, too! It's wonderful to keep learning new things, even after all these years. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm so glad you found a spark to keep your motivation burning bright! We have to take that wherever we can. Everyone has their own style, but the great thing about the writing world is knowing you're not the only one that works that way!

storyqueen said...

What an awesome sounding conference. And how cool you got to meet Tricia in person!

Shelley

Krispy said...

Thank you for sharing that story because it IS really encouraging! I'm totally a slow poke writer too! :)

Rita said...

Wow, these comments are becoming like a support group I should join. This is a brilliant post. I'm so glad you loved the editor/agent/author panel, too, because, you know, I could be biased, but I don't think I am. (It was AWESOME, right??)

It was so great to see you there, Sherrie! Write on!!

Rita said...

P.S. I saw your post on Lee Wardlaw's Facebook page, and for some reason the pull quote there zoned right in on, "Yay for us slowpokes!" (Kristan's comment above, but I thought it was the start of your post). I thought you were talking about how long it took me to get out these photos, hahaha! But when it comes to writing...yeah. I'm not ready to admit it online yet. Let's just say, I love this post and these comments. :)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Kristan: Yes! Slow pokes unite! I wish I was one of those fast writers, but it is what it is. And putting out something I'm proud of is more important than just getting it out.

Lee: Your talk was brilliant. And with all the cat pictures that tied in with the points you were making (or not!) -- you made me laugh. And cry. I'm so glad I got to hear you because it was most definitely inspiring.

Susan: All the writer friends I've found help keep me going and conferences like this one are the perfect boost.

Shelley: It was a great conference. One of these days I'm going to meet you, too!

Krispy: I'm so glad this post helped inspire other slow pokes, too!! I was hoping I'd run into you at this conference, considering it was right in your back yard! Next time :)

Rita: You are more than welcome to join this support group. We slow pokes have to encourage each other :P And thanks for all the wonderful photos. You got so many fabulous ones, I had a hard time deciding which one to use!

Barbara Watson said...

Thank you for the encouragement! Slow is my go too, and I'm even slower in revision because things do, like you said, need to echo around the brain awhile.

Casey McCormick said...

Inspiring Sherrie!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great post! I love going to conferences. You always walk away inspired. :)

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