Hi, friends. I’m reporting back after last night’s festivities at my first DFW Writers Workshop.
First of all, can I just tell you how talented these people are? I mean the members are legit. Second of all, they are Organized with a capital O.
I showed up around 6:45 because I had to pay my dues and become all official-like so that I’d have the opportunity to read. I met a couple people who said that I should really visit a couple times before deciding if I wanted to join. But, I dove right in, completely undeterred. And I have to say that I would quibble with that guy’s advice. Because I would have totally chickened out if I hadn’t signed up and paid my dues before I had time to think about it. In fact, I met one girl who had been coming for over a month and had become so intimidated that she still had yet to read.
Anyway, after I forked over my money, I went to look at the “trophy” case, which contains all the books that have been published by DFW Writers Workshop Members. There are to huge bookcases stuffed full with books. Tor, Delacorte, Harlequin…tons of great publishers represented. I was truly impressed.
Then a nice woman (named Sue I think?) saw that I looked like a lost sheep and told me I could sit down with her. Thank goodness!
There was then a brief meeting in which I had to introduce myself. I tried to not sound too ridiculous and, at that point, think I succeeded. Afterward the president asked who had rejections. Everyone applauded. Who had acceptances? Applause. Who had submitted? Applause. You get the picture.
I was still convinced I’d be okay at that point. Not too worried yet. But when they called out the different reading groups? I started having a full on panic attack. No joke. They split us up into reading groups. About 10 people were in each room without about 6 authors reading.
There was a moderator who kept time and helped keep the discussion moving. Each writer was allotted 20 minutes…between 10 and 15 minutes of read time followed by critiquing. During the critiquing the author was not allowed to speak. If a critiquer wanted clarification, he could ask the moderator to ask a question. This was great…until it got to me.
Um, hi, reading out loud is a SKILL. A skill that I am apparently horrible at. I was so nervous and I absolutely wear that sort of thing on my sleeve. My voice was shaking. I had no idea when to breathe. I was completely undeterred by commas and/or periods and spoke 1,000 words/minute. No joke. Oh yeah, and I swallowed at least the last three words of every sentence. The whole time I was petrified I would have a coughing fit. All I can say is that if you are an author giving your first reading, practice. Not reading in your head, but reading out loud for people to hear.
For people reading for the first time ever (like me and this one other guy), the reading was given applause. After that, you never get applauded again at the workshop. The comments were very helpful. And like I said, these are NOT beginners. These folks have credentials and a serious love of the craft of writing.
I read second. Then, of course, I had to listen to the others with lovely lilting Southern drawls read their pages completely relaxed. Oh well.
At around 9:45 pm when the meeting ended, members headed over to IHOP for some meeting and greeting and general merriment. I know y’all will be shocked (kidding), but I’d never stepped foot in an IHOP I don’t think.
Alright, I wrote this post in record time and have so much left to tell. More on the Writers Workshop and a convo with my agent in particular.
Thanks for all the good luck wishes on my last post. I truly appreciate and value the comments. Take care!