I went to Wordstock last weekend. It’s a writers’ conference held almost annually in Portland Oregon and it had just moved to a new venue. The move, not surprisingly, had a few pluses and minuses, just like the rewrite of an old novel. (Did I mention, I’m rewriting an old novel – Imaginary Numbers – soon to be released by Indigo Sea Press?)
- Those of us lucky enough to get into a lecture halls could actually hear the speakers
- Those of us not standing out in the rain were in a very pleasant, inspiring venue (the Art Museum)
- The guy keeping the floor dry so nobody would slip in the crowds trying to cram through tiny doorways did a wonderful job.
Minusses: see above.
What stayed the same was the quality of the speakers – they were great.
And what I learned:
- You are who you are. You can’t pretend to be someone else – to look like someone else, or to write like someone else – because your critics will tell you who you are.
- You’re never too old, too young, too weak, or too anything else (except perhaps too scared). You can swim the impossible (Cuba to Florida), write the impossible, paint the impossible, and most importantly dream the impossible. Those dreams should never be discarded (well, unless they involve hurting somebody, I guess).
- Culture determines what people see and believe – in a world without artificial light, it’s really not so hard to believe in witchcraft. Writers can create that world and make their readers believe.
- Friendship determines what people do and achieve – trust your friends to help you, accept their help, and praise them for their help.
- You can find inspiration anywhere. (Where else would I have found myself comparing swimmers to angel guardians?)
So here I am, signing my contracts for great new novels (yes, of course they’re all great) with Indigo Sea Press, rewriting Imaginary Numbers (see above), making final edits to Subtraction, eagerly awaiting the release of Infinite Sum (tentatively scheduled for January) and the rerelease of Divide by Zero (moving, as we speak, to Indigo Sea). What will I do with what I’ve learned?
- Dry my hair (boy did I get wet at Wordstock). Then dry my edits – remove those drips that pour from the imagination when I change one thing and make another stop working.
- Remember to look at a map before attending my next conference, so I won’t have to stand so long in the rain. Then I’ll remember to check the timelines and imaginary maps for my novel. Did he turn left when he should have turned right? Do I care? Can I just say he turned?
- Look for inspiration everywhere (even in the rain) – but be careful not to overuse rain and other depressing metaphors. The sun has to shine sometimes or we’ll all get soaked.
- Thank the guy who mops the floor, and the friend who says, “That’s confusing,” and the other who asks, “What happened to that person from the last chapter?” and the other…
- Rejoice in the fact that when someone says, “What brings you to Wordstock?” I can answer, “I’m a writer.” Better still, rejoice in the new friend I made. She writes. She’s a writer too, and she’s just learning to say so too.
Sheila Deeth is a writer (yay!!!!). Her sequence of novels–Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, Subtraction and Imaginary Numbers–will all be released by Indigo Sea Press soon (ish – she’s still working on some of them). Her childrens stories are published by Linkville Press and Cape Arago Press. Her speculative novellas are now under contract to, yes, drumroll, Indigo Sea. And her dreams are all over the place. She’s grateful (I’m grateful) to Indigo Sea for giving her this place where those dreams can land.