Geary and I woke up to a quiet house. We got ready, made our smoothies, ate breakfast, gathered our belongings. We drove to campus without even thinking about where we were going. It felt totally natural and a little bit sad.
In class, we actually went over revisions with the group and asked questions regarding critique, etc. Then we met individually with Ann out in the hall. She asked me how my meeting with John went, what his notes were specifically, and how I felt about them. We talked about my novel and then she did a cold hard read of my next WIP. She actually didn't even read the first line out loud, she just started giggling. Then she read the page in the exact voice I intended, laughing the whole time, and said, "I'm not even sure if I'm the right person to read this, because I love everything you do right now."
Thanks, Ann. :)
Back in the classroom, we gave Ann her presents:
A framed photo of the class,
a case of Dr. Pepper,
and "Make Good Art" by Neil Gaiman.
She was happy.
Then we went around the group and presented our ideas and tangible objects.
Gabrielle handed out flowers that didn't smell, because scent grounds the reader in sense of place.
Jessica handed out 100% creative juices (Capri-Sun).
Scott reminded us of a quote from John: "No one will care if you quit." And Andes mints with the message, "You were mint to do this."
Jennifer handed out crazy glasses to remind us that real characters are unique and memorable.
Geary handed out the Mike & Ikes with the reminder the character relationships make a novel sweeter.
My saying with the Charleston Chews was that sentences should be chewy, but chewy in a good way. I started writing a poem, but I only got two lines into it:
Instead of saying, "He ran quickly," say, "He sprinted."
Instead of saying, "It shined brightly," say, "It glinted."
Ann gave us some more reminders and we all said goodbye to each other.
From left to right:
Back row: Bruce, Gabrielle, Taya, Karin, Tanya, Bethany, Amy, Geary, me
Front row: Valerie, Scott, Ann, Jennifer, Jessica
Then we went to lunch. I made sure to pass Thank You cards to Carol and John in the faculty room. I think it's important to let people know when they've made an impression on you, and to express gratitude.
We met a new friend, Matt Broadhead. He's writing a sci-fi YA and we talked about our novels. I think we'll keep him in the circle.
After lunch we had a plenary by Michelle Witte. It focused on making writing lean.
Then we all went to Ann's breakout session, Creating Your Life as a Working Writer. We all sat in the front row. She was happy. Here are some of her tips:
Connect with other writers
Find an audience
Indulge in some of the things that make you feel like a writer
Subscribe to publications about craft
Create a space where you can write
Take yourself seriously
Here are some quotes from her presentation:
"When I got old and realized that I was slowly inching toward death. . .."
"I have a mildly lawless streak."
"This was back in the 70's when we had to use paper and stamps and you know, type crap."
"I just wanted to go in a cave and grow fur and eat donuts."
Then we went to the auditorium for the closing ceremonies.
They did giveaways, prizes, and announced the winner of the Instagram contest. When they said my name, I was shocked again. I mean, I take good photos, but I thought there would be hundreds of photos in the #heartofwifyr stream. I just opened my Instagram account for Pete's sake! They told me I won a ten-page critique from John Cusick and asked me to stand up.
So I stood up again in the back and everyone turned around to look at me and I said, "I have gotten so much out of this conference. I have had so many opportunities here and I'm so grateful for that, so I want to give this prize to someone else." They looked confused and said they would figure it out. The announcer said, "Wow, that's the #heartofwifyr right there." Then they handed out a bunch of free books and other prizes (I won a luxury bath package) and then announced the new winner of the Instagram contest. She was so excited, she was clapping her hands and jumping up and down, so that was good. Then they showed a slideshow of the conference and we all clapped and cheered.
Then it was over.
I went up to Carol and apologized for throwing off the program. She said I was wonderful and not to worry about it. Then I told John, "It's not like I don't want to have a ten-page critique with you, I just wanted to give someone else a chance." He thanked me for my thank you card, told me I was sweet and generous and then said he would be LOOKING for my manuscript in his inbox.
We took a few more photos. I love Carol so much. She is one of the kindest people I know.
Caught Ann Dee on the way out. OMG, I love this lady.
The rest of the day is a blur.
Thank you Carol, and John, and Ann, and everyone. It was unforgettable.
On to the 3rd draft!