Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Memories of Santa Barbara, 2013

The 2013 Santa Barbara Writers Conference ended three weeks ago, but I still have a photo of the hotel up on my laptop background to keep a little bit of the conference with me. What a great time I had! I so look forward every year to my week of a writing retreat and the great workshops and speakers and panel discussions.

I enjoyed going to some workshops taught by favorite leaders. I enjoy Wylie Wisby Dunbar's fiction workshop, and also Lisa Lenard-Cook's (got her new book on memoir; I have her book on The Mind of Your Story, highly recommended). Someone recommended to me Jerry Camarillo Dunn's workshop on travel writing, which turned out to be a great workshop for anyone writing articles; the latter part of the week he focused on interviewing. I was quite surprised to discover he uses the same tape recording method for phone interviews that I was using 20 years ago when I was writing some very complicated technical pieces for specialized publications. (I was also surprised to discover how well my iPhone records an interview, even from a distance away from the speaker).

Learned that literary agents are still alive and well, although some of them are a little bit behind the times (that would be the agent who sniffed, "When did the vanity press become entrepreneurship?" Five to ten years ago, actually, with the advent of e-publishing.) Agents can still do a lot for a writer in this day and age if they are willing to change with the times and offer clients services they can't get elsewhere.

The discussion on social media (i.e., promoting yourself and your writing) was interesting. Some panelists said they spent as much as 3 hours a day on social media. The older members of the audience (like me) muttered that social media was a "time suck." Marla Miller, who is my go-to person for such things, advised us to spend at least an hour a day on social media. I went up to her afterward and said, "Marla, for those of us who have fulltime jobs, we're lucky to get in an hour a day to write!" She quickly backtracked and agreed that writing was always priority number one. Thank you, Marla!

I haven't tried Twitter yet but I guess I should. And I guess I should get myself a domain name, website to come. O brave new world... I considered myself pretty au courant just starting this blog. NINE years ago. Eeek. Much has happened in technology-land since that time!

But the big lesson from Santa Barbara was, as always, write well. Practice your craft. Be the best you can be. And come back next year with that manuscript finished!