Well, it’s Saturday afternoon at Genrecon, and my brain is way too full. I need to jump up and down a bit, like packing flour into a container, to let the contents settle and make room for more. Instead, I’m taking some time out to sit quietly, drink a hot beverage and update my blog. Outside I can see cloudy skies and a gusty wind having its salacious way with the fronds of a palm tree. Ah, Parramatta, you sexy beast, you.
Genrecon is a conference for writers of genre fiction, and Rydges Hotel in Parramatta is full of writers of romance, crime, fantasy, SF and horror (and a lot of other genres besides). It’s also full of editors, publishers (both large and small press) and agents.
So far I’ve attended panels on Writing Effective Fight Scenes conducted by writer and martial artist Simon Higgins, how to make a living as a writer in an era of the dwindling advance, and ways of approaching Villains, Monsters and Cads in your writing. Tomorrow I’m looking forward to panels on The Future of Agenting and The Three Stages of The Writers’s Career.I’ll also be participating in a debate about how approaching plot outlines – I’ll be speaking for the Plotters against the Pantsers (‘flying by the seat of your pants’).
Things I’ve learned so far?
- Historically, the deadliest ninjas were girls.
- Adrenalin gives short bursts of power, but there’s a cost for it.
- Even big, tough men can cry if they are unexpectedly punched in the face.
- Anyone who is in writing to get rich is both hilarious and deluded. (Or JK Rowling.)
- Almost all writers get income from something other than their writing. If they’re lucky, they get it through public speaking and workshops.
- When creating villains, it’s a great idea to take something traditional and then approach it from a different perspective.
- While the villain is the hero of his/her own story, the gothic anti-hero knows that they are the villain of their own story, and must overcome his/her own flaws.
- (I think BBC Sherlock is may be a gothic antihero in this sense.)
- Traditionally, female villains are either thwarted in love or trying to make their son Emporer. Surely there are other motivations out there.
- Kim Wilkins feels there are not enough Vikings in literature. I find myself suddenly agreeing with her.
Other things I’ve gained, outside the panels, is that it’s wonderful to spend time swapping war stories and successes with fellow writers; that it’s encouraging and even necessary for your own motivation to hear people say they like what you do and to tell others how much you like their work too.
Writers generally work in such isolation that it’s a huge relief to talk to others about their writing habits, approaches that work (or not) for them, to see that others struggle, and others succeed, so you know you’re not alone and that success is possible.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from an industry conference for writers, but so far I’m finding it intensely stimulating, challenging, inspirational and reassuring. The Queensland Writers Centre has done a great job of organising guests, panels, workshops and an opportunity for writers to talk to agents. Bless them all!
(As an aside, I had the best street conversation ever on my walk to the venue today: some kids asked me if I’d seen a goat. Yes. A goat. Yes, I did ask twice, to check they meant ‘goat’ and not ‘coat’. Having ascertained that indeed, a goat was what they meant, I confessed that I had not seen one, but if I should, where should I direct the beast? “To the school” they said, pointing. As both a writer and as a human being, I was very disappointed not to see the goat between the school and the conference venue. I sincerely hope the horror, crime or thriller writers in attendance were not responsible for its disappearance. If the romance writers were involved, I definitely don’t want to know.)