Monday, October 08, 2007

Lessons from a writer's conference...

Rhett sent me this a while back and in my busyness I never got around to posting it. So, thanks Mad, for the post and for your patience as it sat in my inbox hidden by so many other things.


Last weekend, I had the pleasure of teaching at the Harriette Austin Writers Conference at the University of Georgia. When I first attended this conference seven years ago, I was an unpublished newbie writer with little experience dealing with professionals in the writing field. Thanks to the people I met through HAWC through the past years, I made valuable contacts that helped me grow, improve, and eventually, publish.

As I usually do at the conference, I learned many new pointers on editing and promotion. One tremendously important truth stood far above the mechanics of writing; editors and agents are first of all, people.

In the rush to gain recognition, don’t we often forget this simple fact? Do we see them as either someone to place us in author’s heaven, or crush us underfoot? Yes, they do hold power. They have earned this through hard work and long hours. But, they have dreams, disappointments, bad days, and joys. They have feelings.

As I interacted with a group of agents and editors, I was amazed to hear stories of writers exacting horrible retribution for rejection of their manuscripts. On a regular basis, they deal with outright anger for offering constructive criticism. Is it no small wonder that most agents and editors don’t offer comments with their rejection letters? Hmm….

We talked about books, writing, and the business, but we also shared stories of our homes, beloved pets, and humorous life experiences. I came away with a new appreciation for these hard-working professionals who share our love of the written word.

As I continue on this journey, reaching for the stars and often coming up a little short, I pledge to remember the feelings of others. As with most things, kindness and respect shine the best light on us as writers.

Rhett (madhatter)


Cheryl said...

You mean those elusive agents and editors are people? I thought they were the evil ogres keeping me from getting published. LOL!

Seriously though, this is a great post. Many times, we are so tied up in pitching and promoting our work that we forget that the person in front of us might have recently lost her favorite pet or been stuck in a traffic jam all morning long. Thanks for the reminder.


Jean said...

So true Cheryl!

I think part of that is the writer giving the agent/editor more responsibility for "publishing future" than they really have. I mean we believe that person is the "only" one who is stopping us from a great writing career or is the only one who can make that career happen.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to impress that person we tend to mess up:--)

Great post mad!