Tuesday, August 2, 2011

conference de-briefing

A new blog post can be quite intimidating if you've been away from it for awhile. I've returned from an incredible three weeks in Southampton, NY with writers block not because I have nothing to say, but because I have so much to say. I already know that this post won't do any of it justice, so I'll just generally sum up.

Some things I learned (or affirmed) about myself as a writer during this conference, in no particular order:

  • I'm a storyteller, and my stories are driven by character and a what-if.
  • Screenwriting and novel-writing suit me well. Short story-writing does not.
  • My bachelor's degree in psychology was money well spent.
  • I have a hard time grasping the concept of "literary".
  • I'm very proud and appreciative of my rhetorical training and perspective.
  • My insecurities about (not) being "well read" have resurfaced. (Then again, I grasp the concept of "well read" about as easily as I grasp the concept of "literary".)
  • A classroom is a special space. So is a Long Island beach.
  • Ice cream cures writers block. (Rather, it makes you not give a damn about it.)
  • Man, and I can get paid for this!
  • Revision is still my favorite part of the process. So is the thinking part. And, when the time is right (and it needs to be just right), so is the talking-it-out part.
  • I have to serve myself as a reader before I can serve any other reader(s).
  • I'm on the right track.

Maybe some of these resonate with you. I don't think you need a conference or a class or a workshop or even an MFA to discover these things. But it's quite validating when you do so in the company of other writers and writing teachers. At least it was for me.

As I take this week to work on my syllabus for the fall semester, I will be thinking about this blog as a classroom space and get back to the teaching of writing here, too, starting with character. I can't wait to share what I learned about protagonists and antagonists!

Happy writing, folks. And take my word for it on the ice cream.


Anonymous said...

How is your supply of Sander's Hot Fudge topping?


Holly said...

You wrote "Screenwriting and novel-writing suit me well. Short story-writing does not."
Funny, as I am not suited for novels but write plays really well. ;)

Elisa said...

Full supply, Larry... thanks!

Holly, my twin brother is the short story writer. I learned just as much from him as I did my class this past month.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Of course, when you're as talented as I am, you can write novels, short stories and plays and games (which is all three combined in a strange way)!

Nope. Can't pull it off. Not even in type. Crap.

Elisa said...

Your modesty is one more reason why I heart you, Beth. Or is it humility? Regardless, you are indeed *that* talented!

rjkeller.org said...

*runs to the store for a pint of Ben & Jerry's*

Great post! Glad you had a good conference.

Elisa said...

Better still, Kel, buy an ice cream maker! ;)

politicalcenter said...

I just started to follow you recently. Glad you are back and had the opportunity ro charge up again. I am looking forward to your posts. I started a political blog, a sports blog (that is barely underway) and am planning to do a grandparent blog. Your encouragement to beginning writers in invaluable. Thank you Elisa, from John Lambert