This Day We Write!
I know my sister just posted a blog on the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, but it was such an overwhelming and amazing experience that I can’t help but want to publically share my thoughts on the entire thing as well. The SiWC was just an unbelievable experience, filled with positivity, energy, and hope. I left feeling electrified and invincible!
I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts about the conference before we arrived. I thought we weren’t ready to pitch our story yet, we hadn’t had enough time to perfect our writing, that we simply weren’t prepared enough to make the most out of it. I see now that nothing was farther from the truth, and I was just afraid. Thank goodness I had the constant optimism of my sister and the immense support of our parents, otherwise I would have bagged the whole thing and said, “Maybe next year!” for the rest of my life! I don’t believe our book will ever be 100% done, but somewhere along the way you just have to accept it and give it a go.
First of all, I love Vancouver! Even though it’s similar to Victoria, there’s always that feeling of Big City possibility as soon as the car pulls off the ferry. Our hotel was quite lovely with the comfiest pillows you have ever laid your head upon. We debated trying to smuggle one home but it wouldn’t fit in our suitcase. Registering with the con and getting our official SiWC folders and pens just heightened the excitement! (Oh, and not to mention we saw fantasy author Sam Sykes checking in at the desk so I had to fangirl-squee a bit.)
I was a bundle of nerves the first day, but relaxed when I saw how outgoing and friendly everyone around us was. Leah and I are not social Olympians, so making friends and small talk is not our forte. Lucky for us however, everyone else seemed more than happy to introduce themselves and break the ice.
The keynote speaker Friday morning was Jane Espenson, so being an uber Buffy-Angel-Game of Thrones-Once Upon a Time fan, I was in awe. Next, I sat through awesome workshops where I learned the do’s and don’ts of pitching (EXTREMELY helpful!) and heard some great thoughts on villains and conflict. During the conflict workshop, I received my first high-light of the trip: a text from my sister that read,
I got an appointment with Jack Whyte!!!!!!!
Jack said, “Well, after tearing that to shreds, I can tell you it’s very good.”
Meeting Jack was one of our hopes for the conference, but having him review our work was more than we could possibly dream! And, he said it was good. In his Scottish accent.
Incredibly, I got a last-minute pitch session with a certain agent that I really wanted to meet. Not so incredibly, Leah and I had not yet crafted our pitches yet and had to do so in 20 minutes. Incredibly, it came out sounding quite exciting! And even more incredibly, I was able to say the 40-second pitch without vomiting all over the table or bursting into tears (both of which I wanted to do). And even more incredibly, she said she wanted to read it! At first I was in shock, then denial (Oh, I’m sure she just says that to everyone so as not to hurt their feelings), then I decided to just accept it as a great thing and celebrate! Our very first query ever resulted in a request!
And what better way to celebrate than with a drink at dinner? Which were, by the way, delicious. Being a vegetarian, I was astounded by the amount of meat-free dishes they had, all which were incredible! And the company was even better. Talking about my work in a professional setting was extremely inspiring. I have so many supportive friends and family members in my life who I constantly lean on and talk about my writing with, but when I brought up our books to these new colleagues, I actually felt like I wasn’t discussing a hobby anymore – I was discussing a career path. I was discussing a lifelong dream.
Saturday went by just as wonderfully with some beautiful keynotes, another successful pitch where an agent requested the first three chapters of our novel, and an extremely helpful and hilarious Blue Pencil editing session with Sam Sykes. Oh, and Jack Whyte called us beautiful, and what better compliment is there than one said in a Scottish accent?
The amount of inspiration I received was indefinable. All I want to do is write that novel that’s been burning in Leah and I since Leah was 14 years-old and had her epiphany of what if…? Now that I have writer’s high, I am seriously considering taking a semester off of my biology degree in order to give writing full-time a go. I’m in the perfect position to do so (being only twenty years old with an ideal part-time job and my parents lovingly not charging rent). My reasoning is this: why am I devoting more of my energy to Plan B, when I should be giving 100% to Plan A?
So, readers, has anyone else felt like they should give writing full-time a go? Were you in a position to do so? How did it work out?