Friday, May 6, 2011

Insights from Muse & the Marketplace: Part 1 of 9

Ha! Had you going there.

No, this isn't the first installment in a nine part series on my escapades at the writing conference, though lord knows it could be (and I might at least get to Part 2 where I stalk a few local writers). However, I will give you this little nibble from the keynote on Sunday.

The speaker was Ron Carlson. He has been writing and teaching for ages and stated fairly early in the address that he feels entitled to be a bit cranky about it. To his new students he says (while knocking his hand on a whiteboard) "Put something in your stories." He went on a ten minute riff about all the things he begged his student not to write about, including death. "The body count is high," he said. "And unnecessary."

He was funny. Really funny.

The best part, though, was that I understood what he was getting to. What joy to figure out that I've been writing enough to see what the novice pitfalls are, when drama and tension become confused with explosions and suicides. Not saying I can write past those black holes yet, but I see as soon as they pop up in my writing and certainly in the works of others during my classes.
In other words, knowing when you start to suck is really big progress. Huge.

Most of the conference felt that way, like I was really ready to take in the wisdom that the instructor-writers were doling out. And here's the other thing. I felt proud of myself for working so hard to get there, and "getting there" was only about being practiced enough to learn. Getting there is getting nowhere at this point, and still, I felt damn proud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice, Cheri. Love it. Loved hanging with you and Esme at the conference. Keep on chipping away! Rob