I went to my very first writers conference this past weekend, hosted by the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group up in PA. It was a lot of fun to meet other writers face to face, and I learned some interesting ways to come at my writing. But I have to say the thing that stuck with me the most probably wasn’t intended to be an actual lesson, just a moment of life…
Donald Maass runs a literary agency, and he’s written several books on how to make your novel all kinds of awesome. I attended his session about creating depth of character and a lot of… weird things were discussed. Do you know what grunge boots are, for example? If not, they are work boots that you wear unlaced, typically with your jeans tucked in them. This is what Donald has told me. I live in rural Virginia. I see what the horses are wearing mostly. Anyway, he had us take a moment and let our main character rant about their opinion of grunge boots, and I was very happy because I knew exactly how America would feel about that look and that it would change depending upon who was wearing it. I was pleased to see how much I got her. Anyway, not the point.
Another thing Donald asked about was where your characters go to escape or regroup. And he mentioned that we as writers all have different ones too. For example, I used to walk on the Huckleberry Trail a lot and sometimes I like to just drive around and think. He lives in the city and doesn’t have a car, so his places are much different. And then he said something kind of beautiful to me. Donald and his wife recently adopted a 3-year-old son, and he doesn’t like being left alone. Donald mentioned hiding in the bathroom and that even this was too much for his son sometimes. So he’s started doing his thinking while holding his child.
I don’t always adapt well to change. Unless I’m planning for or am really giddy about something, I don’t know how to handle things. Even then it can be… ungood. And this just struck me on several levels. Forget my silly little story or my characters, what about my life? Sometimes I come at things the way I did when I was in my teens or early twenties, and maybe that’s why I relate to my readers so well. I get you. But I can’t do that for every situation. It’s the subtle things. I can still brainstorm while rocking Guyden to sleep or plot while I cook. Sometimes motherhood is very overwhelming. But it’s not the end of anything. Some of the coolest things that have happened to me ever have come since I got pregnant almost two years ago.
I’m sure those few honest lines about his life will help my characters, but more importantly, they’ve helped me. I think the thing we seek in books is humanity (even in inhuman forms), so it’s important that I simply be human myself. Change, grow, fail… all good things. Anyway, that’s just a thought.
Does this make any sense at all? This is all I’ve been able to think about. Whatever. You knew I was weird.
In other news, stay posted. I got a few books over the weekend and a giveaway is on the horizon! Also, perhaps a video with some conference tips are in order? Yes. I think so.