I spent the weekend at the annual conference of the Alabama Writers Conclave, which is supposedly the oldest continuous writing organization in the United States. They awarded ROYAL STREET, my first book, with a “First Chapter Novel” award last year, so I thought I’d repay the favor by attending this year.
Interesting experience. First, I had a blast. I met a lot of people, heard some interesting speakers, got to lounge around in a hotel room without pets and family. But what I learned was not what I expected. I expected to get some writing insights, some new ways of approaching material, publishing tips.
But, instead, here’s what I learned:
–There are a LOT of people out there, primarily women, who are trying to make careers of writing poetry. This floored me. Do people still read poetry? Who reads poetry besides other poets? I did not attend any of the poetry sessions, or I might have learned the answers to those questions. But I couldn’t bring myself to do so.
–There are a LOT of people out there, primarily women, who are chasing the dream of literary short fiction. Yawn. Oops, I mean, wow. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t write a decent short story if it came up, introduced itself, and hopped onto my computer screen fully formed, that such a career path would ever occur to me.
–There are a LOT of people out there who write for the love of writing, and the possibility of inclusion in a small-press anthology or a quarterly journal is the end- and be-all of their aspirations.
I almost came out of this weekend experience feeling inferior. I’m crass and commercial. I love writing but I want people to read it. And I want to be paid for it, although the money isn’t as importance as the having people read it part, to be honest. And I have no delusions about my work being the Great American Anything. It isn’t literary, though it is literate. It isn’t full of deep thoughts, although I hope parts of it can be thought-provoking.
It’s popular fiction–even worse–GENRE fiction. Gasp! And I love it.
Now, for that poetry: There was was a writer from Nantuck, who hoped his flowery prose didn’t suck…