Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Surrey Hangover

Like so many others, I’m finally starting to get over the Surrey Hangover.  Just in time to do a last minute gear-up for NaNoWriMo (more on that in a bit).  
Well, you’ve all seen the notes I’ve posted on workshops and master classes.  Now I’ll go over some of my favorite bits.  First off, these are the themes that stuck with me:  Write every single day.  Believe in yourself.  Know your characters and story like you know yourself.  Read as much as you can.  Don't Give Up.
Now, the fun parts.  I met so many great folks.  Some I knew from the Compuserve Forum.  Others were brand new to me (Darcie, Deborah, Trish, Scott, Adrienne).  I miss you all, and look forward to seeing everyone again next year.  Until then, there’s always Facebook and blogs.
All the keynote speeches, classes and workshops were excellent.  But the two presenters that stood out for me were Ivan Coyote and Robert Dugoni.  If I’d known how moving they were going to be, I would have filmed it.  Seriously folks, these two are amazing!  
There’s no way to describe it.  Dugoni’s keynote speech showed pure passion for writing.  He tweaked the Aragorn LOTR speech, but I can’t remember how it went. I do remember that it brought more than a few tears and laughs.  We all stood at the end for a group “This day, WE WRITE!”  
You might be thinking that it’s a bit cheesy, and it may be.  But if you can listen to that man’s speech and not feel a surge of pride, passion, and motivation for writing…then writing is not for you.  It takes a whole lot more than want to to write a single novel, much less keep doing it.  
As Ivan Coyote put it, “This is serious shit.”  It is hard work, and tons of dedication is required.  But passion for writing feeds that dedication like wood on a fire.  After hearing them speak, I had a raging bonfire.
[I emailed Robert Dugoni yesterday and asked for a transcript of his speech to tack on the wall—like Stewart Smalley’s Daily Affirmation]
Friday I was scheduled to pitch my manuscript to Sorche Fairbank at 14:45.  Thank the gods I took pitch classes from Chuck Sambuchino and Katharine Sands.  I must have rewritten my pitch ten times or more in the 24 hours beforehand. 
I passed Ron Wodaski in the hall, and he stopped to tell me how well his pitch went, which only made me more jittery.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement of galactic proportions.  My whole life I’ve had an iron stomach, totally impervious to mere nerves.  Not that day.  No Sir.  No Ma’am.  
Sweaty palms.  Tachycardia.  Near Syncope.  I’m pretty damn sure I overdosed on caffeine between breakfast and the pitch.  That didn’t help.  
And the cottonmouth!  Jesus Christ!  Even smoking weed never gave me a case of dry-mouth like that did. 
The pitch was going well and I realized I’d left out the major subplot, which ends up being the payoff at the end.  After explaining that to Sorche, she perked up….and wanted pages.  Thirty to thirty-five of them.
[Cue adrenaline rush]
I blabbered some lame apologetic jibberish.  “Well, see I was really pitching for practice because I’m doing a total rewrite, changing the whole book to third POV instead of switching back and forth from 1st to 3rd-”
“That’s good.  I think that’ll work better.”  She nodded for me to continue.
“And I’m just not comfortable with sending anything out right now.  Parts of it are in second draft-others in third.”
“I agree.  You shouldn’t send anything until you have it completely polished.  Why don’t you take my card.  Here’s my email-and send me a query when it’s ready.  Mention that you pitched to me at Surrey.”
[Cue Hallelujah music and sun breaking through clouds, spilling glorious light over us both]
I know I thanked her more than once, but I can’t remember a damn word after that.  
I saw Ron again, and gushed about my pitch.  He said he’d met Sorche a few years earlier, and that if she showed interest it was no small matter.  
From there I road Cloud Nine up two flights of stairs to attend Jo Bourne’s amazing description workshop, where my pen ran out of ink halfway through.

Saturday night’s Compuserve Par-tay was a blast.  I had a great time discussing obscure BBC shows with Michael Slade, watching a nameless someone open a bottle of ale with his belt buckle, talking ales and whisky with Jack Whyte and Robert McCammon, eating Doritos with Lagavulin and ranting about real life description of clotted blood with Ron, and listening to great authors read snippets of their work aloud.  
It was so great to finally meet Forum Folk in person.  I wish there had been more time—Pam, Ron, kc, Diana, Tyner, Donna, Laura, Ev, Martha, Jo, Beth… I know I’m leaving out a few.  I had a blast, y’all. 

Sunday afternoon I had a great discussion with Jo Bourne on plotting a knife wound, bleeding, suturing, etc.  Only at a writer’s conference can I discuss medical jargon with non-medical types, and be free from squeamish faces and syncopal episodes.
Dinner Sunday night was bittersweet.  Everyone has gotten closer by that point, but we all must go home.  Special thanks to Martha for getting up an hour early Monday morning to split a cab ride with me.  

It was exhausting, exhilarating, and humbling.  And I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.


erikathegreen said...

Hey, it was great meeting you too (I'm Adrienne btw, the blog is on-again/off-again). Took me some time to deprogram too, but I managed during a visit with friends, just got home yesterday. And isn't it a rush getting a positive response to your pitch? I can hardly wait for next year, but that 6 month re-write is staring me in the face.

Aven said...

I'm in the same boat with the rewrite. I've been plotting it out by scenes and changing a good bit of it along the way for a total rewrite, I'm using NaNo for that.

Not Waving But Drowning said...

I'm a friend of Scott's and he asked me to post a comment as he doesn't yet have a blog. He asked me to say hello and to write that he really enjoyed meeting you at the conference. He also stated that he liked reading your postings about the convention.

Aven said...

Thanks, NWBD.
We all had a rather large time that weekend.

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