Day Two of the conference has just finished - one more day to go. We are packing in so much, and I am learning lots of new stuff. For example, I did a workshop with Richard Garcia yesterday on the Deep Image - which I thought was going to be about imagery, but it was actually about a kind of poetry called Deep Image that uses the body and nature. I wrote a very weird poem about being a whale (kind of). I also attended Kate Gale's double session on The Inside Story of Publishing. I wondered if it would be interesting - how much more do I want or need to know about the subject? But she is part of Red Hen Press, an independent small press, and her information and stories about small press publishing were great - and very useful. She talked about very detailed things such as how they sell their books, and how they work with writers, and also stuff on self promotion. In fact, so much information that I'm really glad I took lots of notes.
On the first day, Stephen Barbara from the Donald Maass Agency talked about what agents do, submissions, queries and all kinds of agenty things. I thought it was interesting that his agency has boilerplates already negotiated with the large publishers. As he said, authors without representation who get the publisher's boilerplate are really starting at a disadvantage.
The very first session (yes, I'm working backwards) was Laila Halaby talking about truth in fiction - what is truth, what is real? And how do we create the real in something that is created out of our own imagination? She made good points about accuracy, and about the reader's trust in the writer.
Tonight, it was my turn to read, along with Donna Steiner and Richard Garcia. Donna read a wonderful non-fiction piece about a jeweller's loupe, and Richard had everyone laughing at his poems about his mother and his dog (dog as psychiatrist). How to follow two great acts? I read some very dark poetry - well, somebody had to be depressing! - and then we had a mini-launch of Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!) with a little speech from Marge Pellegrino, a Tucson children's writer, and I read from the book (not so depressing... I hope). Then we had non-alcoholic cider and Vegemite. Meg is still trying to get rid of the jar of the stuff we gave her in Melbourne! Quite a few people tried it - "interesting" was one of the more positive comments.
I have met lots of wonderful, keen writers, and it is fascinating to hear people read out in the workshops. In my voice workshop today, everyone went along with my visualisation exercise and wrote a voice piece - the brave ones who read out were amazing. So different. For me, that means an exercise worked - when so many different voices emerged.
Tomorrow is the last day, and another agent is going to talk about query letters and first chapters - I will be taking lots more notes.