Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Writers' Conference in Brighton

From the folder (Write By The Beach)
I did say I would be taking part in NaPoWriMo but I have just returned from a writer's conference and am days behind. I'm still letting all I learned filter through and am not really in the right place for poetry writing every day. I was caught up in the excitement at the time and realise that actually I'm not ready. I did write a poem earlier today which has nothing to do with prompts from poetry writing month - I'll come back to that in a moment.

Write By The Beach is run by The Beach Hut Writing Academy in Brighton. I went for their very first conference last year. It ran for a day and I came away with lots of information and a better idea of where I should be heading.

This year the conference was over a weekend. I asked a friend who has an apartment in Brighton if I could borrow it and she ended up coming with me, though not for the conference. She was my sounding board, she dropped me at the venue both mornings and picked me up. We had so many laughs and she kept me sane! Going to these events is motivational and a learning curve, but I come away exhausted from the bombardment of information, and this time, from the anxiety of pitching a novel!

The first agent I met made me rethink my novel - what is the main point. I was left wondering what I could do, but there were positives which I only realised later after I untangled everything. The next day I had a ten minute advice slot (in lieu of an agent who was no longer able to be present) with an author and mentor who is a member of the BH Team. This was the most enlightening ten minutes! She gave me feedback on my pitch and I had a light bulb moment. From the advice I am re-writing my pitch and taking other advice she gave me. She made my weekend.

Apart from pitching there were talks about writing for TV and radio, panels on alternative and innovative publishing, agents discussing stories of their most successful books, agents secrets along with special mini workshops. On the Saturday I chose 'On the Crime Beat' with P.D. Viner (writer) and Graham Bartlett (retired Chief Superintendent) who is an adviser to TV and authors. It was a great session.

One of the best presentations for me was on story structure with Julie Cohen, writer and creative writing teacher. She used clips from Pixar films to explain how these films work and how they work in novel writing. Absolutely riveting. I'd watched all the films she mentioned (some many times) with my kids. A very unique presentation.

The Three Act Structure as in 'Cars' (Pixar)
Another favourite presentation was on the Sunday and was all about editing and polishing your novel. Lots of note taking! Good stuff. Another highlight for me was meeting the author Cally Taylor whose book The Lie I had read. She talked about her route to becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller (lots of despair and crying - I can associate with that, the despair anyway). She shared a lot of herself including negative comments made on her short stories through an online writing group. I bought Cally's latest book and asked her to sign it for me. She was lovely to chat to.

The last thing I attended was about self publishing. All the sessions included time for questions and it was good to hear things from agents/publishers about the traditional route, what agents are looking for, the big no-nos in submitting, tips while hearing about the various other ways to publication - hybrid, crowdfunding, independent publishers and the full indie (self publishing) route. There are positive and negatives on all sides and I guess in the end you have to choose which works for you. I'd love to go the traditional way but as I get older I realise time is running out and it's so hard to get an agent. They have to know they can sell your novel and the cards seem stacked against authors. There are many good stories but it's the great and different they are after or the next Girl On The Train. Often what you hear is confusing and contradictory. The publishing world seems to play it safe. After all look at the trends. The market was once flooded with misery stories now it's psychological thrillers and crime. Crime sells and commands the biggest section of the market.

It was great meeting lots of people, chatting to authors as well as delegates who'd come from a long way away or who were local - everyone learning and longing to get published.

Having had brilliant sunshine over the weekend this is what we woke to yesterday.
Taken from Brighton Marina looking towards Rottingdean

Having just now received some feedback on a revised pitch through another source I am now totally confused as it says the opposite of what I was advised to do. It's times like these that you wonder whether to just give up. I think I will give up pitching or take a course on pitching, synopsis and cover letters because right now I feel I just don't have the knack. (Sorry this is raw from an email I just received and I should never write when I feel like this).

However, in the post today came Writing Magazine and Popshot. They should make me feel better.

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