In my last post, I started talking about the Push to Publish conference, and focused on my “speed-date,” during which, I pitched my novel to an agent (or didn’t pitch it, depending upon how you look at it…see the post for details). Today, I’m talking about the sessions and some of the people I met.
Straight off, I think I need to come to terms with the reality that I’m not a sessions-kind-of-guy. I don’t know what that kind of guy would look like, but it isn’t me. This was my second visit to PtP, and I went to the Writer’s Digest Conference in August, and in all three conferences, I was there for the agents, pure and simple. As I’ve said before, sessions are nice, some are better than others, but for me, they’re gravy. If there were no opportunities to meet agents, I would not go. In a perfect world, I would love a conference that was nothing but a six-hour cocktail party with:
- plenty of food and booze
- maybe a jazz band, assuming they’re decent and not too loud
- waiters walking around with trays of martinis
- lots of nooks where you could scurry off and have a private drink with someone
See what I did there? I made a printable list that conference organizers can carry around with them and check off the next time they put together one of these things. I’m looking at you, Writer’s Digest.
But I digress. What I wanted to say was, despite my (at best) indifference to sessions, these were not bad. I particularly enjoyed the one about genre fiction, which was paneled by published writers who work in the field. The moderator was Gregory Frost, who was kind enough to pose with me for a photo. I liked him enough to buy one of his books, Shadowbridge, thereby rewarding him with a buck-and-a-half of my own money (or whatever his percentage is).
The one I found least interesting was the one about the latest trends in publishing. There wasn’t anything revelatory here (at least, to me), and the mediocrity of the material was compounded by the discomfort of the seating. For whatever reason, they shoehorned a bunch of us into a classroom, and while I know I spent a hell of a lot of time in those hardwood chairs with the built-in half-desk when I was in college, speaking as a forty-something-year-old curmudgeon, an hour in those things is murder. The kind of pain that you don’t know is happening until you stand up, but then lingers for the rest of the day.
The keynote by author Julianna Baggott was surprisingly good, mostly because it wasn’t the touchy-feely dreck I was anticipating. This was a treatise on nurturing your creative time from a rational, no-nonsense perspective. Her approach was that, just because you’re able to write a book, doesn’t mean your process doesn’t suck. You could be writing books in spite of your sucky process. She talked about analyzing what you’re doing, zeroing in on what works, and trying to replicate more of that. Plus, she gets bonus points for being funny and charming.
The final panel was a “meet-the-agents” thing, which was exactly what you think it is. They talked about their recent victories, and attendees asked all the questions they always ask at these things, and the agents gave all the answers they always give. It was fine, if you’ve never been to one, but no one left the room with their Third Eye opened to the mysteries of the cosmos.
Anyway, I still want to talk about the after-party and the after-after-party, but that discussion merits a post all its own. Check in later this week for my final post about Push to Publish.