I’ll go ahead and admit it. The title of this post is a bit misleading. Technically WriteOnCon is only for writers of Paperback books through New Adult, but, regardless of the category you write in, you can learn a lot by attending.
Read those? Great.
As I was saying, WriteOnCon is pretty darn amazing. However, this year I want to share a personal story, a story about my journey as a writer and how WriteOnCon has impacted that.
Two years ago (at the beginning of summer) I was 18, had just finished my first year of college, and I finished my first novel. I’d been writing for years, but I’d never completed anything. I was overjoyed and I
thought knew I had written the best story in the world. I mean I wasn’t hoping for millions, just an interview with Oprah, ya dig? I’m sure I don’t even have to explain how wrong I was (we’ve all been there, right?). But it was WriteOnCon that inspired me gave me the tools to write better. I’d never heard of WriteOnCon, but I had heard of writers conferences. These amazing programs where writers came together for a weekend of workshops and panels and most of all getting your story in front of agents and editors (yipee!). Just one problem. Money. They cost a lot of money. And I was a college student aka my money belonged to Sallie Mae. Then on twitter, I’d recently joined because that’s what all the cool kids were doing, someone told mentioned this online writers conference where agents get to read your stuff. I thought, heck, after this is over, people are gonna be begging me for the rights (didn’t know what those were) to publish my story. Again, no need to tell you how wrong I was. I didn’t receive a single request, but I did receive something even better: feedback. Hard, honest feedback from everything to your character is bleh to you have a knack for writing a query letter & a synopsis (maybe that’s why I did garner a few requests while querying).
After that year’s conference, I did what any smart writer would do, I rolled up my sleeves and began revising. And, eventually, I trunked the novel because although it was the story of my heart, my writing and my interests had outgrown it. If you’ve ever had this happen, you know what I mean.
I came back the next year more ready than ever. I had a brand spanking new MG manuscript. It was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read when I was younger and boy was it strong. Just one problem. The opening didn’t just suck, it was cliche. Again. (I seem to really like starting books on the first day of school.) But the book was good. And the WriteOnCon participants, though holding nothing back in terms of telling me just how much work my story needed, gave me some amazing feedback, which I used to revise the manuscript. And guess what? (no, not an agent) I was accepted as an alternate in #PitchWars (only the coolest online pitch contest hosted by the amazing Brenda Drake). My mentor, Marieke, who’s so freaking awesome, and my teammates Brooks (who’s a mentor this year!) and Genetta helped me to make that manuscript even better. I never would’ve had that chance without WriteOnCon.
Like I said, that MS was goood. However, the voice was something I couldn’t nail down 100%. I’m currently revising it though, thanks to agent feedback, and it’s going great. Towards the end of the spring semester of my Junior year, I started working on another story. POSSESSION, a YA Paranormal Noir, which is reminiscent of the books I like to read yet is the story only I could write. You see, I read a lot of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Mystery novels, but I didn’t have the courage to write one. Thanks to WriteOnCon, #PitchWars I could see how my writing was improving and so I took that leap and wrote Bria’s story. Now, I’m query and I would say things are pretty good. I’ve nailed the voice. The mystery is thrilling (so many secrets). The setting is a character. The characters are like family. There’s also a lot of humor, something I never thought I could write. There’s just one problem. The query, it needs work. (I know, right? That’s what I’m usually great at.) It’s pretty darn good but a bit clunky. However, I just posted it on the WriteOnCon forums and the feedback is pouring in. I couldn’t be more thankful.
You see, the thing is we often go into situations expecting one thing. Expecting something to be easier than it is. Expecting to get the gold without having put in the effort to even get the bronze. WriteOnCon, for me and for many writers I’ve talked to, is that wakeup call. It’s like a slap in the face. Man. You suck. But here’s how to do better. My writing has improved, but so has my attitude about writing (and receiving & giving critique) and my confidence. Also, I’ve made tons of friends & found critique partners!! And if that’s not some sort of magic, I don’t know what is.
Go sign up, participate. Remember, everyone gets critique. Those stories, those writers who you’re like damn, how’d they do that? Hard work. Lots of Effort. That’s how. Now roll up your sleeves and get going. My username is whimsicallyours (surprising, right?) & I love friend requests. Hope to see you there!
Have you ever done WriteOnCon before? How’d it improve your writing?