Wow. I just made me a new BFF! I’m never going to wash my ears again (insert starry eyes here.) I am currently at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference in Seattle, Washington with my real BFF, Irene Roth Luvaul. We are having the best time and even though we are only on the second day of the event, with two more days to go, this thing has already paid for itself in what we have learned about writing, editing and the publishing industry in general.
The keynote speaker was none other than Greg Bear (cue the angels) and what he had to say was more than entertaining–it was inspirational.
While still in high-school, this man and his gang of sci-fi fanatic friends used to hang out with mentor Ray Bradbury! THAT connection was invaluable to his career as writer and storyteller, working in the less-than-respectable genre of speculative fiction.
Greg’s complete dedication to the craft of writing and his passion for the genre of science fiction and fantasy comes across in his talks. He is very frank and has a sense of the ridiculous that resonates with his audience. He is a humble man, who told me he worked to deadlines because he has to pay the mortgage, and publishers frequently have deadlines.
The best part of the evening for me was meeting the man and getting his signature on my copy of the Mongoliad, book 1.
Irene is a champ at getting things done. She got me moving so I was fourth in line to meet him and get his signature. I’m just going to say it–Nothing is more undignified than an old fat woman who has just met god.
You will be so proud of me! I made it all the way out of the room before SQUEEEEEing like a school girl with a front row ticket to see One Direction. I am fully convinced that by virtue of having exchanged pleasantries while he signed my copy of his book, Greg Bear and I are now best chums and will be forever.
Irene managed to get me peeled off the ceiling and back to earth, but it was dicey there, for a while.
What I learned from Greg Bear is this: to be a writer, you must write. You must have passion for your story and you must be obsessed with your universe and the worlds therein. His passion and obsession for the craft of writing really come across in his speech. He lives in his worlds, he knows his characters and their lives better than he knows his own.
Another thing I have learned from Greg Bear is to attend writers conventions if you can.
These forums offer us the tools to advance our careers. With the huge boom in indie publishing, it is even more crucial than ever for those of us who intend to remain indies to have the edge that knowledge of the way the industry works gives us. We have to stand out of the crowd, and to do that we must have a professional product and a real marketing plan. If we intend to compete, we have to know and understand the competition.
For the indie author, the competition is the high quality of the finished product put out by traditional publishing houses who are blessed with talented staffs of editors and cover designers and their long established connections with literary publicity publications.
We can compete. We have to put out the best, most professional product we are able to create. We have to hire editors, and pay for good covers. We have to write ‘blurbs’ that intrigue our readers. Our personal online presence when we are googled must be consistent and professional. Attending conventions offers us the opportunity to meet people in the industry and make professional connections. It is so much more than just being an elderly fangirl.
I am inspired to write. More than ever I am driven to live this writing life, inventing improbable plots and eccentric people. And I am empowered to believe I can succeed because great storytellers like Greg Bear have gone before me, and paved the way.