Last Sunday I flew home from New England Crime Bake, the annual writers’ conference in Dedham, Massachusetts—my first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. Gathering together with my fellow authors was a joy.
Here are some highlights:
1. Spending time with several Miss Demeanors—Alexia Gordon, Susan Breen, and Emilya Naymark. During the pandemic, we’ve been meeting on Zoom, but being together in person is a different and much better experience. Recently I listened to a podcast on “Zoom Fatigue,” how our brains process the tiny and unavoidable online delays in communication. Our brain knows something’s out of sync and constantly looks for ways to overcome it. Exhausting.
2. A lovely dinner with the friends listed above and our common agent, Paula Munier. We compared notes, asked Paula questions, and shared what we’re hoping to do in the future. We shared our personal lives as well. As wonderful as social media is, we crave face-to-face time with other human beings. That’s how we’re built.
3. Celebrating the Crime Bake Guest of Honor, Hank Phillippi Ryan, who makes every occasion more fun. We laughed when Hank read a few of her early rejection letters. It felt good. We were among friends, people who know what we’re dealing with. We’re all in the same boat.
4. Reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. Many of the Crime Bake attendees were there for the first time, eager to meet fellow writers. Writing is a solitary activity, especially during this past year and a half. We need community.
5. Learning something new. Here are four things I brought home with me from Crime Bake:
A New Thought
When in doubt, ask yourself, “If this was real life, what would the character actually do?” (From “The Muddle in the Middle” master class with Hank Phillippi Ryan)
A New Resource
Etymology Online (www.etymonline.com) provides not only the meaning of English words but also when that word was first used—so helpful when writing historicals and so much easier than using a magnifier to plow through the microscopic print of the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary. (From the panel on writing historicals—”When Home Already Happened”)
A New Perspective
Thinking through each main character’s external and internal goal, his or her flaw, and the obstacles he or she must overcome: “The character that faces the most obstacles is the most interesting.” (From “The Dynamics of Opposition” workshop with Desmond Hall)
A Renewed Passion
The most important thing I gained was a renewed love for writing. Those of us who write know what a privilege it is to be able to follow your dream.
Not everyone is a writer, but each of us has a passion in life to pursue. Sometimes that passion syncs with our day job; often it doesn’t. Making space in your life for the thing you love most is an essential element in your sense of happiness and well-being.
So, what is your passion? What is your dream?
What one step could you take this week to make it happen?
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