Those of us pursuing the dream gathered once again at the newly remodeled Wyndam Hotel at 4th and Arch for Day Two of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. A bright and sunny day brought new hope, inspiration, and learning. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
The morning sessions saw the beginning of the 2-day Master Classes in Screenwriting by Marc Lapadula or Poetry by AV Christie, as well as single-day sessions covering:
- Freelancing in the Fast Lane (Jeanette Juryea)
- The Lyric Essay (Therese Halscheid)
- Reaching Your Audience Through Social Media (Suzanne Kuhn)
I attended the Social Media session, where Suzy reminded us that social media is all about engagement, not selling. If you are social and hospitable, people will want to interact with you. If you hard sell all the time, no one will want to be your friend. Be authentically you and hopefully your fans will then create the word of mouth that sells your book for you.
The morning 3-day sessions kicked off at 11 AM. I am loving Alma Katsu’s Conflict workshop. Today we discussed the non-central conflicts (chronic, internal, and transient conflicts) that can add obstacles and believability to the story, and how to layer them within a scene. How much conflict is too much? You decide what’s right for your story and audience.
Today featured a luncheon session by Cecily Kellogg on Using Search and Social to Promote Your Work. Fellow Chronicler J. Thomas Ross attended this session.
I had lunch at the Bourse and saw my anachronism of the day: Benjamin Franklin using his iPhone! The type of thing you only see in Philly. Of course, being a writer, a thousand story ideas popped into my head just from that one visual. As two of my workshop leaders have said, characters and stories are everywhere, if you are paying attention.
After lunch, I was back in Judith Schachner’s Strength of Character workshop. We explored where we find voices for our characters, and why character is more important than plot in children’s picture books. We also had great discussions on digital art vs. hand-drawn art and also the place (if any) of cynicism in children’s picture books, and whether such books will achieve the longevity of beloved character-based books.
I then raced over to Austin Camacho’s Creating Character workshop (can you tell that I’m concentrating on character this year?). I missed a portion of his class yesterday because of pitching and was glad I got to hear the whole thing today. Austin gave us hints how to lighten our workload by “stealing” characters whole, whether from life or other books. He said you can never really steal a character because as soon as you lay that character into your book, you change him. You write what YOU saw in that character, not what the original author saw.
By the final session, I admit I was dragging. The end sessions for today were: MFA Programs: Their Secrets and Benefits by Joshua Isard and Thinking and Styling by John Timpane.
I attended Thinking and Styling, although I didn’t feel much like thinking, let alone styling. Tired as I was, John Timpane’s energy and humor soon revitalized me and everyone else in the room. Funny and knowledgeable, he not only gave us tips on how to improve our style in revision, but he told us we could get better at thinking, too. He reminded us of what every writer knows: we are never NOT writing, even when we appear to be not writing. Our subconscious minds are powerful and non-linear and as writers, we need to become better attuned to those little flashes of thought and ideas that pop up and then disappear like lightning. If we can harness the power of our subconscious–our daydreams–we can deepen our writing.
Tonight features the Banquet and Keynote Address with Lu Ann Cahn. The winners of the writing contests will be announced tonight, and I hope to have the winners listed in tomorrow night’s Day Three recap.
We at the PWC are pursuing our dreams. As Suzanne Kuhn said today, we are courageous. It takes courage to own our dream. Just coming to the conference is the stuff that dreams are made of. We have all paid attention to our daydreams, and they have brought us here.
The dream continues tomorrow.