Friday, October 22, 2010

One Last Hug

A question / answer set I learned last year at the Surrey International Writers Conference and have heard repeated again this year is:

Q: What is your favorite piece of your own writing?
A: The one I am currently working on.

When you are a famous author (or a yet unfamous / yet unpublished author with more than one complete / yet to be completed piece of writing), feel free to use this in an interview like so many other authors. Or be honest and tell them the name of your favorite work. Or tell them my instinctual answer:

All of them.

I include my small part in the Prairie Chicks blog in this list of favorites. The Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog isn't rolling belly-up in the water. The Chicks will cease posting because they're finished. Not giving up. Finished.

Completed.

This is how I see it. An accomplishment to be proud of.

What else have I seen?

Well. Today, I observed a flock of determined Chicks fearlessly experiencing the Surrey International Writers Conference (Expect great things from these women. I do).

And you know you are too. You're fearlessly determined. But you don't need me to tell you that. You know already. That's why you're here. Even if it is because you feel the need to search for some spark to remind you of your determination. Day by day, I am finding my spark and am glad for the shower of flames and positive energy this weekend promises.

Call it a project or an experiment or a work of love or a relentless drive, but you are a writer. You don't need me or anyone else to tell you that. And there is nothing I or anyone else can do to stop you. Remember that.

So.

What have I learned?

I am the opposite of a fair weather writer. I like it cold and dark and snowy. Summer is for gardening and edits.

Writers as a collective are unbelievably supportive and kind and caring, even if they pretend to be introverted hermits.

I am less of an introverted hermit than I originally suspected.

What is in my future?

Writing. Writing. More writing. I vow not to get in the way of my story. Not to be that author whose head pokes out from the shrubberies or who you can tell is hiding in the linen closet. I will allow my characters be described by their actions, not a list of their hair and eye color.

A lot more time with mermaids and mermen. Mostly mermen. Shirtless ones.

Some thought into the pros and cons of a pen name. A piece of advice from Julia Quinn this weekend - if you want a pen name, go ahead. But keep your first name so you actually turn your head when someone is talking to you.

Perhaps a bit more blogging on my personal blog, which has sadly fallen into disrepair over the summer.

What bit of advice can I, an unpublished author, offer to you:

Be authentic. Be true to yourself. The right decisions in life are usually the difficult ones. This does not mean every difficult decision is the right decision. Follow your heart. Follow your head. Follow your stomach. Floss. Sing in the shower. Eat your main character's favorite meal. Spend time with the ones you love. Secretly observe them as character research. The show must go on.

And finally...

Relax.

Breathe.

Enjoy every moment you write. Enjoy this thing you love. This thing we love.


"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
-Mae West

6 comments:

Helena said...

Hey, fellow SiWC-attendee!

So glad being involved with Prairie Chicks has been a good run for you, and what a great last post!

And what a great conference we're at again this year.

All the best for whatever your future holds. With your attitude, I'm sure it will be bright.

Jana Richards said...

Hey Stephanie,
You and Helena and the others are so lucky. SIWC was a blast last year. I loved it!

Best of luck with your shirtless mermen. I hope to see you and all the other Chicks next year at the retreat.

Keep on writing.
Jana

Janet said...

What a great post, Stephanie! And great advice - I reread it a couple of times because I need that right now.

It's been wonderful having you blog with us here on The Prairies. I'm looking forward to you getting back to your blog - still on my favorites, so I'll know when you post. Best of luck following your dreams.

Happy Writing :)

Stephanie said...

Hi Helena,

Thanks! The conference is great, I agree. It is even better attending with people I know. There is a difference between a bunch of people observing one another's excitement (a la rock concert, book signing) and a group of people sharing their excitement. SiWC is the latter. It was great to see you there. Best of luck in the future.

Stephanie said...

Hi Jana,

Hopefully we'll see each other at SiWC next year. I just can't get over how wonderful it is. Try as I might, I can't seem to escape these shirtless merman. Some might call it a curse... haha

Good luck with your writing and I can't wait to see you at the retreat next year.

Stephanie said...

Hi Janet,

Thanks for the kind post. I hope to resume blogging soon. Perhaps when the snow flies... I have some blog reading to catch up with too and yours is at the top of my list. Good luck with your writing!