Friday, January 21, 2011

Supporting the Writing Life, Part 5

A couple more things on supporting the writing life... with two more to come! 

Getting an internship within the industry can be a great way to build your writing career and strengthen your writing. It's one thing to read about how agents choose their books or how to follow writing guidelines at a magazine. It's quite another to experience the literary world from 'the other side' of the writing desk --the business side.

Reading dozens of query letters, book proposals and first pages for a literary agency gives me a much clearer idea of what it requires to catch someone's eye. I love walking into the little cottage on the hillside overlooking San Francisco Bay, settling myself into a worn leather couch next to the dark wood bookcases and stone fireplace, and hoping for that sparkling gem I might send on to the agents that day. Granted, it's not always easy working for free when there's work and class and writing of my own to be done. But I'd like to think the work better shapes my understanding of the "how to's" of writing. And, hopefully, the resume builder will get me that much closer to finding work in my field pre or post-MFA. 

You get to choose from a variety of workshops, hear from industry professionals, network with writers and editors, and pitch story ideas to agents. Some conferences offer genre tracks so you can workshop stories over a period of time. Many have themes like Writer's Digest's The Future of Publishing and Getting Published in the Digital Age. There are panel discussions and keynote speeches, with luncheons or dinners included. No matter where you are in your writing process or career, a conference can inspire your writing, give you focus on your path, or put you in touch with influential individuals.The price can be steep, especially if you're coming from out of town. But some, like AWP, offer student discounts (ONLY $45!) and scholarships. 

Upcoming conferences:
Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City, Jan. 21-23 (ok, we're late on this one!)
AWP Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2-5
San Francisco Writers Conference in San Fran, Feb. 18-20

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