I’m a member of the California Writers Club, a multi-branch club that has members all over the state. One of the northern branches is the Redwood Writers club, which–for the past couple of years–has run a series of mini-conferences over three consecutive weekends. Last weekend, I drove up to Petaluma to participate in the third weekend, giving a workshop on the basics of critiquing a manuscript.
It was a lovely morning. The group was small, but everybody was warm and friendly and energetic. I did my intro talk, then broke my workshop participants into small groups. They read a sample scene, wrote up a critique, and then presented it to each other. I “eavesdropped” on the critiques, then gave them a few minutes of feedback. No, I didn’t tell them whether they were “right” or “wrong” on what they were saying about the scene. Instead, I focused on whether they were digging deeply into the manuscript, how much detail they wrote into their critiques, and how they presented their comments. I had some really strong critiquers in the group, and it was really fun to listen to them share feedback, then interact with them about the methods and styles.
I got there early enough to sit in on the first workshop of the morning–a great talk about memoirs, presented by Susan Bono. Susan is Editor-in-Chief of Tiny Lights journal. The journal has an annual essay contest, and it’s not too late to enter this year’s. The deadline is Valentine’s Day (this Saturday, folks!), and here’s the info you’ll need if you want to submit.
Linda McCabe is the friend who gave me the first connection to the group, and President Karen Batchelor invited me to speak and kept all the organization stuff running beautifully. Linda sat in on my workshop (Thanks, Linda!), and then took gathered me, Susan, and the other presenter–Ransom Stephens–together for a yummy lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant across the street. Ransom told us all what to order, and I had one of the best noodle bowls I’ve ever eaten.
My “students” were my guinea pigs this weekend; this was the first time for my critique workshop. I think it went well, but I hear a rumor of feedback forms, and I’m really looking forward to any comments and suggestions about how I could improve things. It was a weird experience, listening to a critique for the structure of it, instead of the content, but I think it worked well & I can completely see continuing with this workshop at more conferences in the future.
As usual, any time I hang out with other writers, I had a blast and came home totally recharged. I was even fighting a cold and had a party to go to that night, and I had all the energy I needed to get home, do a quick-change from professional to social apparel, and drag my husband onto the dance floor a couple of times. Son: no way! 🙂
Question for all of you. I’d like to make this type of post a staple of my blog; just a quick, mini-report of conferences and workshops I go to, either as a speaker or an attendee. Confession–I am LOUSY with a camera and actually avoid taking one with me places, so you’re not going to see a lot of photos of famous/not-so-famous people here. (Although check Linda’s blog out later this week; I think she’s going to put up her pics!) So the question is: Do you like reading about conferences, etc? If not, I’ll probably keep the posts going, but maybe shorten them a bit (I say that like it’s so easy for me!). If you’re enthused, I’ll keep filling you in on all the fun stuff. I think conferences are a great place for writers to learn and just commune with each other, and if I can get you guys intrigued, well, all the better! Let me know!