I wanted to attend this particular conference for a couple of reasons. First, my SIL went last year, and she raved about it. In fact, she invited me to go with her this year. Am I one to turn down a visit with my family that includes southern hospitality--meaning free room and board? Not likely.
Second, I've written a couple of nonfiction pieces over the years, and I want to polish them up. But, like the novel, I suspect there are certain conventions that need to be observed in writing the essay. The problem is I have no idea what they are. When writing a novel, I have learned (the hard way...) that there are certain conventions that label you as a rank know-nothing. For example:
- Never start your novel with a funeral, or a description of the weather, or with a dream sequence.
- Show, don't tell.
- Avoid adjectives and adverbs whenever possible.
- Use active verbs, and avoid passive constructions.
When I started writing my first novel, I barely understood the terms "story arc" and "character arc."
Point of view violations are still a problem for me. But, I think I'm getting better at it. I've learned a lot.
So, my idea was to learn as much about the essay form from the best people I could, in the least amount of time, as soon as possible. Hence, I jumped at the invitation to attend this conference.
Now I'm wading through my pre-conference "homework"--critiquing the essays of nine other writers in advance of a day-long critique and revision workshop.
This is a little like signing up for your first computer class, and being required to write the program for it before you show up for the first session!
When educator John Holt said, "We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way," I hope he knew what he was talking about. In med school, it went like this: "See one. Do one. Teach one."
I have a lifetime worth of nonfiction I would like write about, and I want to do it right. So this looks like a good place for me to begin. Again. Wish me luck.
Do you think it's easier to market nonfiction than fiction? Do you think it's easier to write non-fiction?
"Genuine beginnings begin within us,
even when they are brought to our attention
by external opportunities."
In my next post, I'll share some of what I learn at this conference.