Monday, October 02, 2006

Maui Writers Retreat and Conference 2006

This year a group of amazing people got together to learn about writing with the author Jacquelyn Mitchard.
It was my second year studying with Jackie. You hear all sorts of opinions about retreats and conferences for writers. There is much angst about the possibility of meeting editors, agents and published authors. There is traumatizing about the expense and whether it is truly worth it. I can only give my opinion.
The first year I went to Maui I had one finished (I thought) manuscript. I was naive and ignorant of how the publishing business worked, but I had two things going for me: I knew deep in my heart I could write well and I was willing to learn what I didn't know.
I met so many gracious people willing to teach me and established contacts and friendships I still have today.
Holly Kennedy, an author I met at Maui, was instrumental in guiding me. Her debut novel "The Tin Box" came out in Oct '05. (she will have another "The Penny Tree" in May '07). She showed me Publishers Marketplace, taught me how to write a query letter, helped me research agents and encouraged me the whole time.
In our retreat classroom Jackie was brilliant in showing what was good about our writing and what we could improve on.
It was eye opening to see the number of people writing and wanting to be published. It was also eye opening to hear the greatest piece of advice ever - "You have your manuscript finished? Well then start your next one."
I followed the advice I was given. I now had four completed manuscripts, obtained representation with what I consider the best agent in the world from William Morris Agency and ended up with the support and mentorship with two wonderful authors.
Yes I worked hard.
Yes I was committed to my writing.
But Maui was the start. It planted the seed.
So this year I met 12 talented people and again learned what is good about my writing and what I can improve on. I also learned that if I can help neophyte writers and point them in the right direction like Holly did for me, I can pay back the generosity of new authors like Holly and established ones such as Jackie.
As a character says in my book, "What goes around comes around."
Indeed it does.

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