Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why Aurelia Loves Writing Conferences

Five years ago, Aurelia brought yours truly to a writing conference. She was excited. I was terrified. And broke.

But she had said I had to come.

I had paid and signed up to talk to two editors and an agent; hence the terror.

Aurelia thought all this was kind of premature, but she knew I had to practice, so she let me do it. I had also carefully printed three copies of Aurelia’s book and packed them in my bag.

She thought this was just silly, but she kept her mouth shut. She wanted me to go to the conference.

On the morning of the first day, she dragged me to a class on grammar. I felt this was unnecessary as I had taken Advanced Grammar, Punctuation, and Usage in college. I was very proud of myself for knowing how to use dashes, colons, and semi-colons. FYI, five years later, after working with copyeditors, I am now quite clueless about semi-colons.

The teacher at the writing conference began talking about the difference between en dashes and em dashes. I had no clue there were two kinds of dashes! The teacher then said that one must always, always, always begin a sentence with a capital letter. My second chapter started with a lower case letter! (FYI, in this case, the teacher was wrong. The second sentence in the second chapter of Aurelia still begins with ellipses and a lower case letter). I decided there was no way I could show anyone my manuscripts yet. Aurelia thought this was wise. She allowed me to leave the grammar class. And go to something more fun.

We went to Children’s Literature. Where I learned that young adult books are not chapter books. Who knew? I also learned that Aurelia was the wrong age. Clearly, she felt this was a vital detail. Though it caused a serious problem with the plot line, one that was quite a debacle. And which freaked me out.

Aurelia thought this was good. She knew I would figure it out, eventually.

She then held my hand while we went to all the scary pitch sessions with REAL editors and a REAL agent. It turned out they were all REAL people. And they all said I could mail Aurelia’s book to them. This made me feel much better.

Of course by this time, I had also realized I had a lot of revising to do. Which made Aurelia feel better.

So she took me to the BEST class. How to Write a Page Turner by Marc Acito. Where I learned all kinds of cool stuff! And Marc Acito turned out to be the motivational speaker at lunch. And made all the people in the audience raise their hands and say out loud that they were writers. Which is SO important. And I did!

Then Aurelia took me home, where I thought about that HUGE debacle I had discovered in the Children’s Literature class. And thought about it. And thought about it. And OMG! finally figured out who the real villain in the story was.

Which made Aurelia very proud of herself.

So she signed me up for another conference.


  1. That Aurelia is bossy, but she seems to know what she's about.

  2. I think she mostly bosses me. Something tells me the other characters have nominated her as their representative.


    P.S. Robert says he abstains from commenting on that theory.

  3. Very good description of a writer's conference! =) I'd llove to hear about how long it took to work out the plot issues with Aurelia's age. I'm in the same spot at the moment and am trying not to be overwhelmed by the size of the task before me.

  4. Hi Rebecca,

    I would say maybe about a week or two once I got home. I was walking around the basement, thinking A. has to be this age and B. has to be this age. And this just isn't going to work. Unless . . . Ding! Ding! Ding! Epiphany.