Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Writer's Conference

I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Writer's Conference at CSUS this past weekend. It was a very humbling experience for some of us. It was invigorating to hear so many talented writers who had a vision for sharing something with others, whether it was something personal about themselves or a topic of importance. We heard the success stories and also the daunting reality of getting yourself published.

One of the authors that showed incredible determination in gettting her book published was Sandy Lynne Holman who wrote, "Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad?" As a teacher, Sandy helps young people of all cultures understand and appreciate their heritage. She was a dynamic speaker who had us all dancing before the presentation was over.

As I was leaving the workshop, I met Susan Wooldridge who has written books and presents workshops to adults and young people on self expression through poetry. She offers "PoemCrazy Workshops" for community libraries, schools, and individual requests.

Growing and learning can be a rigorous process. It is very difficult to critique other people's writing as we did in the workshops, and it is also very difficult to hear your own wonderful work critiqued. The workshop facilitators emphasized the importance of writing what's in your heart, following your passion, and then editing...editing..editing. Writing is at the heart of the human experience. Sharing yourself with others through writing, speaking, or conversing puts you in a vulnerable position. It's through that vulnerability that you feel human. Receiving a positive response to that communication makes you feel bigger than life.

Too often in our experiences with others we sit in the director, editor, or critics chair asking ourselves if the person we are listening to deserves to be heard. We tell ourselves they are wasting our time. Go work on yourself some more and come back when you are successful. Publishers want to see a person's work when it has already shown a track record for success. I'm afraid that we as individuals often do the same. Some of the most wonderful successful books like, "Harry Potter" were rejected by all of the major publishers. Then someone took a chance on something different. They listened to something no one else was listening to.

Have you ever shrugged someone off for being a little odd, unique, or different? Maybe they talked more, louder, or with a lisp. Maybe they wore a colorful outfit when their friends were wearing black. I certainly have, and others have done that to me. I think we are really missing out when we are not open to people who are creative, unusual and mysterious. They may be like the best book not yet edited and published to sell to the masses.