Writing Conference: A Family affair by Tacheny Perry

Writing Conference: A Family Affair

A couple weeks ago I attended the Nebraska Writers Guild conference with my dad and sister. It was the first non-pregnancy/birth related overnight away from my oldest children. And so, naturally I was both excited and nervous.

I made an itinerary, promised a special prize for good bedtime behavior, and then I got on a plane and prayed everything would be fine. Those worries however, I’m going to save for a moms blog.

This post is about the writing.

Writing Conference: A Family Affair by Tacheny Perry
My baby and my sitter!

Friday evening, with baby and built in babysitter (aka grandma) in tow, we headed to the conference center to enjoy reading from other Nebraska Writers Guild members and share some of our own. I was actually called second and was able to share one of my favorite moms blog posts: Boy: Why I Cried when I Found out I was have my Third. It was a lot of fun to hear all the different voices and genres, and though we had to leave before my dad could share, I had a wonderful time.

Saturday morning opened with a talk by Sabrina Sumsion about press releases, which I found informative but difficult to write on the spot. (No one’s allowed to read my worksheet 😉 ) Then we were treated to some very interesting stories by retired journalist George Ayoub. He also had some wonderful quotes. Some of my favorites were:

“Don’t be a writer; be writing.” – Faulkner

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

“I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.” – Tom Stoppard

My pitch session came during the last (and my favorite) talk of the day. Before you get excited, I wasn’t successful, not in the “Yes, I’m going to sign you today!” way. However, I felt much better about it than I did about my first in-person pitch. For one thing, this time I actually sounded like I was familiar with my book. The agent asked several clarifying questions and I was able to give coherent answers to almost all of them. AND when it was over I got to rejoin a talk about creating compelling characters.

Danny Manus, the final speaker, works in Hollywood, mainly on scripts. But he had some wonderful ideas and specific tools to help any character, whether on screen or in print. I loved that he had exercises and questions I walked out excited to apply to my projects. His presentation was a condensed section of a 4-week webinar series. (Writer buddies, if you’re interested in checking it out here’s a link)

A couple of my favorite character exercises:

  • come up with 5 core traits/adjectives for protagonist and antagonist
    • for each, write 3 ways you bring them out in the story
  • What are 5 things that brought your character to page 1
  • Create 3 ‘deal breakers’ for you protagonist; make him/her break one
Writing Conference: A Family Affair by Tacheny Perry
Right around here I got this picture…thanks mom ;-/

I loved learning new tools for my craft. I loved meeting new people with whom I share a dream. But mostly, I loved being able to go to a conference with my family. More than any book, or lesson, or experience, my family, their writing legacy, has influenced my writing. My dad, my mom, and my grandpa were my first readers, critique partners, and champions.

During his opening remarks, the Nebraska Writers Guild president mentioned our family and the fact that I was a third-generation member. My father took me to my first guild conference and his father took him.

“How cool is that?” he asked.

Pretty damn cool.

 

Writing: A Dream Worth the Thud

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Dreams are amazing. They fuel our passions and send us flying. But then they get hard. They collide with reality. Gravity takes over. And falling hurts.

I want to be a writer. I want to be an author (published please!). And I know it takes work to get there. I knew that from the beginning. But knowing that what I’m going through is normal, isn’t all that helpful during the slumps.

It’s been several months since I sat down to seriously write. For a few of those I had a good excuse: my body tries to kill me when I’m pregnant. But thankfully, not for the full nine months. And so, almost six months in and able to eat food like a normal person, I should be trucking away. I’m not.

megaphone-911858_1920My inner critique is loud and obnoxious and incredibly unhelpful. My energy level is non-existent (yay pregnancy). And my inbox is full of old form rejection letters, because I haven’t been submitting enough to collect new ones.

One question keeps replaying in my head, “Why are you writing book two when no one is
interested in the first one?”

But here’s the thing, I do have an answer.

I love my story and my characters. I believe their journey deserves an ending, even (though this would be sad) if it never gets published. I just need to make sure these answers are bigger than the question.

To do this, my expectations have to change. I can’t get up at 5am anymore to write. Littlest guy won’t allow it. Nor am I truly functioning by the time we get crazy boys one and two sleeping. But there are other options. I can sneak away when hubby gets home and on the weekends. I can make time. And I should. I am happier when I am writing, making real progress.

And I can tell my inner critique to CHILL OUT. It’s different writing book two. I have a little bit too much information about how much work happens after you type the words, “The End.” But that’s not a good excuse. One of my writing buddies shared a quote by Shannon Hale a while ago that I loved:

 “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Now, I just need to have this running through my head when I sit down to write…

And most importantly, I have to decide that the dreaming, the soaring, is worth the thud. Because it is. (Yet another life-lesson I learned from Ann of Green Gables 🙂 )angel-1008398_1280

I’m a Writer…There I said It

Several weeks ago my family and I attended a small group from our church. It was one of the first meetings so we went around the room and did introductions. Simple stuff. What’s your name? Where do you work? Questions I’ve answered a thousand times. But as they came to me, I found myself giving an answer I never have. At least not out loud and not to strangers.

“Hi, my name is Tacheny Perry and I’m a stay-at-home mom and a writer.”

 End of sentence. No caveat. No prefacing it with ‘aspiring.’ Just “I’m a writer.”

And saying it like that made my heart pound, as if when they heard the ‘unpublished’ part, they’d laugh or throw rotten fruit or something.

But I said it anyway, because that’s what I am. Being a published author may still be just a dream, but I’ve always been a writer.

I get up every morning at 5am and pour my soul into characters I’ve only book
met in my head. I laugh and cry with them, because to me they’re real. And yes, some day I want to go into a bookstore, walk over to a shelf, and find a book with my name on it. But even without that, I love sharing quiet mornings with my stories.

So here I am, irrational fear in check(mostly), introducing myself to yet another group of people:

I am a writer.

Welcome to my journey.

And please, no one throw virtual fruit at me 😉