The Lost Weekend

PNWA Con. Check. Willamette starts on Thursday. Why I chose to attend these two conferences back to back is beyond me. Have I simply taken my distractions to a higher, more expensive level? Probably. I have a mixed opinion about PNWA. It was so great to meet my agent, finally. Jim is a bundle of sarcastic wit. You know how I can't stand sarcasm, or jokes, or making fun of celebrities, right? Wrong. He's all kinds for awesome, and so were his peeps. We had drinks Saturday night with some other agents, authors and at least one editor (who was adorable and funny). Finally, got to meet the ubitquitous (at least on FFF) Rachel Vater, who is this gracious and friendly fireball (Melissa and Jeaniene: if your ears were burning Saturday night, it's because we were singing your praises).

What else?

Oh My God. I got to thank the editor that was instrumental in getting the ball rolling on Happy Hour of the Damned. Liz is well...I can't find the words. I owe her. She was great, complimentary, and f**king awesome (there's some words).

Richelle Mead and Caitlin Kittredge facilitated an info-packed seminar on world building that got pretty good attendance, despite an infuriating double scheduling of Kat Richardson's own paranormal seminar down the hall (I ended up splitting time, and enjoyed both).

On to the mixed part, in the form of a conference warning.

If you are a writer, expecting to get your work into the right hands, my advice is to try your hardest not to be an asshole. I passed this one table of writers. They were surrounding the con program like a bubbling cauldron, pointing out which agents and or editors were "evil" or "devils", for not asking for their manuscript, or---God forbid---offering critique. The negativity rolling from this table told me one thing: these people are headed for self-publishing and eventual failure. Take the advice, people. If the agents and editors don't want it, there is a reason. Honest critique is the only way for a writer to improve their craft. Even if it's delivered without any softeners.

When you go to a conference that actually has the ability to attract really great agents and editors (which PNWA does), count yourself among the lucky. A face to face opportunity to talk about your shit? Awesome. A writer can learn from any personal interaction with these professionals. They're really your people, the entire building will be full of people who love books. As one agent told me, "there's no reason for anyone to be afraid to pitch, (we're all on the same side)." I paraphrased that last bit, 'cause I'm a writer, and all.

Maybe I should go write something...oh wait, I just did.

Comments

TomW said…
Mark,

I couldn't agree with you *more* about how valuable the agent feedback can be!

I met with several agents during that same conference, and one (who will remain unamed because I just don't believe in name dropping) took a look at one of my manuscripts for about a minute, then pointed out several problems she had with it and said because of that she didn't think it would work for her (and why).

Rather than get defensive, afterwards I really looked at what she pointed out (and why) and her comments lit up a lightbulb in my mind. She had identified the biggest problem I had struggled with in that mss from the beginning, and her comments helped me see exactly what to change. The next day I eliminated 66% of the first chapter and re-wrote the remaining 33%, and have a *vastly* improved piece. In other words, she was spot on, and I am so grateful that she cared enough to *tell* me what needed to change. It would've been easier for her to just say "Thanks but no thanks."

So, to what you are saying, I add...yes, yes, YES!

BTW, she *did* ask me to send another mss that I was pitching.
Mark said…
And that's what it's all about.

Awesomeness.

M
Anonymous said…
Mark:
Thank you for being so gracious and honest and lovely on Saturday at dinner. Ditto for your wife. Thank you for not blowing me off as a pilot fish.
Danielle
Mark said…
Hey Danielle,

We totally enjoyed chatting with you. Good luck with your writing!

Mark