The coveted conclusion to the conference confers its content at last!
If you recall, I ended the last post with utter elation as well as the promise of complete and devastating despair. I’ll continue with the latter; it sounds more entertaining.
Before the conference, attendees had the option to submit the first page from one of their manuscripts to be entered into a drawing. If yours was selected, then it would be read aloud (anonymously) at lunch or dinner in front of all the other attendees, while a panel of agents/publishers listened. Furthermore, the “experts” were instructed to raise their hands whenever they would have stopped reading the first page.
Now when my mom had first proposed the option, I thought, ‘Cool, I’ll do that.’ But sitting at the lunch table with over a hundred strangers grouped about the room, I was having second thoughts. And third thoughts. And even fourth thoughts that maybe this wouldn’t be as awesome as I had initially thought.
And of course, my submission was drawn first. FAN-tastic.
To summarize the results, let’s just say all four reviewers raised their hand before the first paragraph had completed. Such comments as “Too much exposition,” “I wouldn’t have read another sentence,” “Bo-RING,” echoed across the banquet hall. Not to mention the speckled laughter from the audience.
And THAT was the moment I knew I would never write again.
Of course, it only took a little while to recover from the devastation (the piece they heard had only been a first draft), and I realized where I could improve it. My mom provided such hope as, “You know they were just hardest on the first person to be read” which may have been true (please, God, let it be true!), but I took the whole incident in stride, not even having to crack open that second box of tissues.
Now, you may be wondering how I could have had such success with all my pitches only to be pelted with various forms of rotted fruit and expired eggs. However, all my pitches were merely oral presentations of my story-arcs rather than actual presentations of my writing. So I’ve still got a chance 😉
The next and final day didn’t provide much excitement—though I did witness an older, female attendee get in a rather tense dispute with a hulking, male attendee (she put him in his place); I met a man who worked so high in government he had to remain quite evasive about his job; I got to ask medical questions of a coroner—apparently you can kill someone with an empty syringe! And I spoke with a screenwriting executive who offered me a potential internship…in Los Angeles.
And so, after all of it, I left with a real sense of sadness that the conference was over. Thus, to those writers who haven’t been to a conference and are able to afford it (they are pretty expensive) I highly recommend it. The experience was great, the knowledge was useful, and the memories are ones I hope to keep forever.