So, what is the exact critical mass of a group of writers all gathered together in one place that will cause them all to either explode or implode?
No idea? Give up?
The answer – two. And yet, many of us dump ourselves together in a single place, and for three or four days do nothing but intensely pick each others brains for tidbits of wisdom we can use. Our only breaks during this time, a moment to steal off into one corner or another and …
After an intense three days I’ve decided that I’m experiencing the equivalent of brain freeze – the writers version – where too much relevant and necessary information is flooded into the brain in a short time span. And just like the brain freeze you get from sucking in too much concentrated cold all at once, it can give you a headache.
The conference was amazing. I don’t know how it could have gotten much better. Imagine having the knowledge of Andrew Kaufman, David Morrell, Eloise James, Tara Hudson, Nathan Brown, and Dan Gordon among several other excellent authors, poets, and playwrights at your disposal for a weekend.
I couldn’t take notes fast enough. Light bulbs kept flashing in my brain like a fourth of July fireworks display.
And then I won stuff … Oh My God. How did I do that? Part of me is dancing the happy dance, but that back corner of my writer’s brain is screaming “The judges must have entered the wrong name or something.” REALLY. My suspense novel got a 1st honorable mention? Mine? That thing I created? And another corner of my brain is screaming “It’s a fluke. A one-off that I’ll never be able to repeat.”
But I did already.
I won 3rd place in the mainstream novel category. And honorable mentions in both essay and nostalgic prose. And … this made me cry … one of the judges for the essay contest came up to me afterwards and told me how much my piece meant to them, how much they identified with it, how important it was to them. It made me cry because isn’t THAT what all writers crave? To know that someone identified with something they wrote? That someone felt something from reading the words they put on the page?
And now comes the long and arduous task of sorting through all of that information and applying it to the reality of what I’m writing.
That’s where the brain freeze is good, though. That sudden pain wrecking headache made me stop and slow down. I realized that instead of sending out query letters this week or even this month, I just need to concentrate on getting what I am writing as good as it can be.