I had the honor of attending The Writer’s Hotel Conference in NYC last week along with about 75 other writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I attended workshops, lectures, and genre labs. This year marks the fifth year of the conference.
I received a whole manuscript critique from the directors, Shanna McNair and Scott Wolven (who became engaged to each other a week before the conference!), supportive guidance from Sapphire, my workshop facilitator, as well as feedback from my peers in the workshop. I completed generative exercises in the genre labs and absorbed insights during lectures. Some of the lectures/labs were timely reminders of concepts I’d learned in graduate school, while others opened new areas to explore in the craft of writing. I enjoyed beautiful readings (students and faculty alike) at famed bars and a breakfast social and lunches and drinks with new friends–all in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
In short, it was overwhelming and lovely. More importantly, the experience was worth the price of admission (and the cost of living in midtown for a week).
Most valuable (in no particular order):
- Receiving a detailed manuscript critique from Scott and Shanna
- Developing friendships among workshop participants and peers
- Doing a reading in a real, active literary venue in the city and realizing that I love to make people laugh
- Learning how to distill a whole novel into a single sentence (followed by practice pitch sessions with my peers)
- Pitching to agents from respected NYC literary agencies
I hope something comes of the warms lead generated in those agent pitch meetings, but, even if not, the experience and opportunity was exactly what I needed at this point in my life and career.
Oh, and of course there was the experience of the city itself, seen as a tourist, but, for a few days, as something more. I finished reading A Woman of Independent Means while I lounged in a lovely hotel room with the sounds of the street filtering through an open window, I dined alone or with friends or with my actively touristing spouse and son. I wrote on my laptop in Bryant Park, or in my red Moleskin, or on slips of paper, or in my notepad on my phone. I loved being immersed among writers whose interests ranged from the literary to noir to rollicking fantasy, and all of us realizing that we could support and learn from the other.
I am home now, ensconced in a chair and surrounded by sleeping cats, the quiet of an old house, and views of trees. I am ready to write, excited about what comes next, and those things, I think, are the best outcomes of any successful conference.