Where do I begin? This year’s Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC, August 17th – 20th, was once again filled with energy and amazing talent. Between the courses, keynote speakers, and the ability to partake in the PITCH SLAM again, (I attended the 2015 WDC) it was exactly what every up-and-coming author dreams of — a room filled with brilliant writers beyond our wildest imaginations. It’s a community of fellow writers, speakers, authors, agents, editors, and new friends. Some of my favorite moments were the keynote speakers, exceptional classes, and hearing my fellow attendee’s pitches.
I also had the great pleasure of meeting the incredible, multi talented and multi award-winning journalist and author, Hank Phillippi Ryan. She’s the winner of five Agatha awards for her novels, plus over two dozen Emmy awards. It was an honor to chat with her, and later get a photo and have her sign her latest novel, Say No More. Her courses gave me incredible insight to the art of becoming a great writer, and what to expect as your journey forward on your path to a successful writing career. We will become and remain great friends, for sure, as we promised each other we’d stay in touch. AND she offered to critique my first FIVE pages! If anyone remembers her show, Help me Hank, you’ll understand how I connected to her passion and warmth. She genuinely cares for those around her. I watched her show years back, and remembered thinking how smart, beautiful and inspiring she was. She was all that and more at the WDC. Her passion and enthusiasm for our writing careers, and wanting us to succeed in becoming great authors, resonated with all of us.
Another great experience was listening to keynote speaker, New York Times Best Selling Author, Lisa Scottoline. Her sense of humor and passion for the craft of writing was contagious. She hit it out of the park with her wit and making us take a step back and really enjoy this journey — no matte how difficult. As writer’s we all have doubts. Is our work good enough to be published? How will our audience receive it? But the journey to our goals begins with never giving up, even after you’ve hit rock bottom. And knowing rewriting (many times) is the key to success. She is one admirable lady.
Richard Russo, author and Pulitzer Prize winner for Empire Falls, was another engaging keynote speaker. His insight to his journey from his college years to Pulitzer Prize winner, was filled with humor, life’s lessons and having a life (another career) before you become an author. It was inspiring to hear that his career didn’t take off until later in life. His wit and self-doubt along the way made you route for his accomplishments all the more. And so many people, including me, resonated with that. He let us see the path to our writing careers can come at any age and our prior life experiences become the backbone for the books we put forth. It was an honor to be in the same room with him.
The humor continued with presenter, and National Bestseller, author Steven James. It was refreshing to learn ways to break the rules of writing, while still putting out your best work that draws in the audience and keeps the reader glued to the pages. Don’t all of us authors what that? His way of thinking was refreshing and enlightening. I especially loved how he ‘handed out’ his handouts. The papers rained down on us in a hilarious toss of his hand. And in that moment we learned writing, no matter how hair-pulling it is, we can look at our work from many points of view as we take out the good plots, and leave only the great stuff that’ll make our books exceptional.
As insightful and at times intense the courses were, they were all taught by exceptional speakers, who were highly knowledgeable in their field of expertise. I came away with renewed energy, and ready to make my final edits (with the help of my talented editor, Rebecca Heyman) shine. Hard work will pay off in the end and make for a MS that’s worthy to send out. Especially, to the Agent waiting for it! I’m so excited to begin responding to agents requesting more material and querying agents in this next big step of my journey, from Pen to Publisher.
Many thanks to the Writer’s Digest Conference staff. Thank you for putting together such an amazing event for all of us debut authors. It’s an experience we’ll all grow from and cannot wait to partake in again.