Writers Digest Conference is a conference that takes place in New York City every year and this year it was at The Roosevelt Hotel. It consists of three days of workshops that run from 9am to 7pm with some breaks in between as well as a selection of workshops to choose from hourly. Writers, editors, publishers, authors(New York times best selling and very accomplished), and the aspiring writer.
Who knows what to expect when you come to New York-the capital for writing and publishing. I had concerns that I would be spending three days with pretentious writers way more accomplished than me feeling like I'm out of my league. And then a question, "Why did I sign up for this again?"......
We also have the option to sign up for a "Pitch Slam" where it's 90 seconds to pitch your book to an agent. Again, this could be miserable if the agents are harsh and just getting down to business with zero empathy.
Well, good news AGAIN for New YORK because none of that was the case. The speakers, authors, editors, and agents were completely down to earth and nice. When it came to agents, they were helpful with steering your pitch in the right direction rather than saying, "No, next." My book that I am pitching is "Memoir" and that is one of the hardest to sell because everyone has a story, but I have not just "any" story. With my analysis, I kept them very interested with plenty of questions at the end and business cards in my hand. Score for me and Score for New York!
Those who are editors or agents have thousands of submissions and people always trying to pitch them, but they were super approachable. They had their "agent" vibes of course, but they were way more mellow than how most in the industry can be. Same with the authors who answered my millions of questions about publishing and editing! Thanks girls!!!
Being in the conference for three days, I met a wide variety of writers from all over the country with a diverse background. One man published three poetry books, another writing since the age of seven and has 15 unpublished manuscripts(she is 22 years old), one lady writing about martians and outerspace, another about teen romance, one a travel cookbook- a whole lot of FICTION. It's fascinating how creative the mind is and how people go different places.
With over 500 people, it was common to still run into the same people over and over. We shared our story, read out pitch to one another, went for lunch, etc. We bonded and it was fantastic. By the end of it, our minds were overloaded with Query letters, proposals, synopsis, sample chapters, the first three pages, the content editing, marketing platform, scene creation, and so on.
People do not understand HOW MUCH GOES INTO WRITING, EDITING, AND PUBLISHING A BOOK. It is an extremely challenging process and even I was naïve to the fifty drafts and ten rounds of editing and selling yourself before the book-there are reasons for these big writing conferences-us writers definitely need all the help we can get-especially those who are just starting.
After a five hour arrival back to Chicago from San Francisco and a five hour bus ride to Iowa, I was extremely tired yet excited for the learning opportunities to come....the next morning at 8:30 a.m. in the Old City Museum on the University campus of Iowa.
Lots of umbrellas and unfamiliar yet friendly faces arrived at the museum enjoying some fantastic pastries and coffee. Being there in the place of such incredible writers was a bit intimidating also a place with an older population.
As I was walking up the wooden spiral staircase, I just so happened to run into a woman from the bus who I was speaking with at the rest stop. She is from Argentina(which is my new country of interest) and she was sharing how therapy is widely accepted and if you don't have it people think you are weird. Wow can I move there immediately, speak Spanish, have my own practice, and tango the nights away? A girl can dream right or make that dream reality...She has a great spirit and I look forward to speaking more with her.
As for our short, but extremely funny orientation-we went straight to our four hour course split into two sessions. This is just a Saturday and Sunday Course. The following course is one weeklong.
Class: Illustrated Scenes of Nonfiction with Carol Spindel
She has been teaching at the conference for years and my peers had also been attending the writing conference. Also, ten of my classmates were twice my age or perhaps older, which is just fine because I enjoy learning, but the discussion shifts based off their generation not my own.
Not going to share everything about the day, but basically
1. Don't edit it while you write it
2. Be specific and concrete taking a small edge from a topic
3. Choose and choose aggressively
4. Know your audience and don't write for your own
5. Frame, unity, and conference
Realistically writers can be fantastic and down to earth or they are on their "publication pedestal." Being in one of the best writers scene, Chicago, I have met 90 percent great down to earth authors and editors, but that is just my experience thus far.
It's just that somehow opposition(always resurfaces) especially in those moments of being productive and happy. If this is you, this means that you are on your path to success so keep going, smile, nod, and handle it with confidence rather than utilizing defense mechanisms from your back pocket.
If you succeed in facing opposition, then those good people will come your direction and reaffirm your own truth and character. That person was in my classroom. She sat next to me whispering in my ear, "You're a great writer don't listen to them." After class, I met two of her friends who were just as lovely, smart, and educated. They had been attending the writing festival for fifteen years and they were the experts. Over Indian food, they all let me have my own therapeutic moment(Priscilla needs this too:) and they confirmed that I wrote with passion, conviction, and reason. When you have confirmations that what you experienced was not what it should've or could've been-you feel empowered to keep trekking forward. "Chin up Priscilla and keep writing." Thankful for those that save me from the fall:)
Writing a book is time consuming, but so is passion:) PCR
After missing the Mountain View Sound of Music performance with SFO(San Francisco Orchestra) on Saturday after a honest effort to get there and being interrupted by Kaltrain scheduling-it was time to make up for it with this free festival in the Stern Grove Park. All you can smell while walking down to the bottom, from the main road, is fresh pine and the air you never want to stop inhaling.
Along with Jazz, the symphony is a love of my mine, which usually sends me to different cities to spoil my senses. Something about breathing in the fresh air, closing my eyes, and just engaging in mindfulness. To let the brain relax rather than turning on to analyze and feel concerned for others.
It brings me peace, contentment.
It allows emotions to be identified and expressed amongst our human spectrum
From love to hate
VIctory to failure
Beauty to disaster
Fight to flight
The audience was silent and all you could hear were sounds of music, sounds of our lives, and sounds of our being.......
This evening I was a guest speaker for a local Toastmaster's group with a Speech Number 7 and a title of "Keep Looking Up."
As a Toastmaster, we have the opportunity to speak at our own registered group or guest speak with another location. This group I had previously visited and they were just as lovely then as they were now. The core group consisted of toastmasters had anywhere from ten to thirty years of experience and after all that time... they are still present with such passion.
It is Admirable to witness, as passion & commitment are a flame that can burn out, but these lovely individuals show up sincerely happy , helpful, kind, curious, and organized. It's encouraging to see this true sense of teamwork, community, and strong desire to help others become better speakers.
There are not many places that offer this level of commitment to the individual, mentoring, supporting, teaching, listening, and asking questions. Toastmasters truly is a place contributing to my personal and professional growth and sometimes it's their feedback that gives me the confidence and purpose to keep speaking no matter what.
The assigned Speech was to Research a Topic. "Texting and Driving" instantly came to mind as it was relevant to everyone and easy to keep people on the edge of their seat. It went well breaking the speech down into three solid points with a jaw dropping intro and a thought provoking conclusion. I definitely needed to practice more, but all the content was there....and the potential......
After my speech, there were very nice comments.
“You have a television or radio voice" This means the absolute world to me as I want to have my own show one day and I believe that I will. then I am receiving confirmations about where I can or will be.
An older man who kept smiling during my speech said, "You've got some potential kid." Another man told me how great it was and how to use this speech with organizations. These people don't even know me, but they believe in me? They are providing me with suggestions and resources as well. Toastmasters serve as confirmations that you are right where you need to be. There is positive and negative feedback always given, but it is genuine and essential for growth. They are not just saying something nice in hopes of you coming back to the club.
Therefore, it's these comments that I am grateful for receiving. It may seem like, "Of course you like positive feedback who doesn't?" It is a choice to say "Nice job" or go above and beyond with your comments. When someone acknowledges your potential, you rise higher the next time you go on stage. Toastmasters give you self-confidence, but they also bring you back to reality with critical/helpful feedback.
This connects to other posts with our confirmations. Confirmations given by our peers can help us believe in our own purpose and the goals we set out to accomplish. The world outside may be negative, unsupportive, unpredictable, inconsistent, but the world of Toastmasters is positive, encouraging, nurturing, and giving.
Thank you Toastmasters for your kind feedback this evening. I will be seeing you in August!
**AUDIO WILL BE PROVIDED SOON**
When I arrived to the Target Center, I had been super excited because I spent all this time picking out my seats. Upon great surprise, there clearly was a misunderstanding as the man pointed diagonally up towards the top all the way to the back of the wall. There was no way I was going to stare down at a screen and Mini Me's all night. The staff informed us that we could go to Guest Services to change our seats. Guest services were very kind and told me we could wait to show time to come back for tickets, but they could be anywhere....
I had either the choice of the "nose bleed" seats or the "random seats" that could be 100 level all the way in the back. My mother, being extremely patient, was just following along as she knows how I am when it comes to what I want.
As she was eating a pretzel, I looked and at her and I looked at the 100 section floor and said, "Let's go." I was wearing a Peach colored Calvin Klein dress with gold accents and gold pumps. My hair curled and my make up in check. My Mom looked blonde and beautiful in a long black dress and tan platform sandals. Most people were not dressed appropriately for a Pastor speaking, but perhaps a Texas audience is different. We looked the part and I was willing to take the chance, the risk, the sacrifice, and the frowned upon rule-breaking for him.
Mom, "Follow me."
We walked in smiling and in a one way direction right towards the front rows. There were about five staff asking for tickets and the lady began to ask me and said, "Oh you are on your way to your seat."
I was on my way to my seat ten rows away from him. It was a whole empty row for me to have my prayer space.
It's important to mention that these seats were ALL the same price at any level and the stadium was about 60 percent full. Now
my Mom and I sat in the high level seats for Bon Jovi, but for my inspiration-no way! Had to be close to his spirit....his presence....his positivity.
THIS WAS IT!
At the Lit conference, we had a great conversation about one of the most controversial topics in my vocabulary: technology...and how it impacts the publishing industry. Regina Taylor, a Golden Globe actress and playwright, shared her love for books...real books...old books...the smell... the cover... the broken binding. She loves them all and does not discriminate from shape, size, or color. Every book has it's beauty.
As a writer and reader, she watched as book stores began to close, publishing agencies went out of business, and the world of books and publishing was forever changing.
Those glory days of just going to the library, browsing through the aisles, inhaling the smell of books are now being replaced with Kindles, Ipads, and Samsung tablets. Tradition replaced with technology and the traditional publishing industry at a loss. It is now harder for new authors to get published because publishers want to know the book is going to sell otherwise many can't afford to take the chance. Also, the author needs to have a good following on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It seems ridiculous to people like me, but that is the world we are evolving into... cyber fame.
When Regina spoke about these topics, she presented as more on the traditional side, but the panelists and herself knew that one has to conform to these norms. It may not be a whole life on Twitter, but for book promotion and connecting with readers-it may just be a helpful tool.
It is a "Catch 22" because it may limit the traditional publishers, but there are options to self publish, Amazon, E-book, or even Blog a Book. The doors have opened for writers to have different options. A person may feel more comfortable doing an E-book than going down the traditional publishing route. A writers personality, budget, comfort, and time can all play a role in the decision making process. With all these publishing options, the competition of selling may increase as everyone has an opportunity. But everyone deserves an opportunity. What do you think?
As for myself, it's controversial because my first thought is the children. When I am traveling and I visit schools, internet cafes, homes, stores, restaurants-my eyes are constantly viewing the opposite of what they want to passionately see. I want to see children reading books, reading the backs of items in a store/family business, children speaking with tourists at each opportunity, collaborative classrooms with passionate teachers, and family dynamic focused on education. It's quite an ideal vision, but it is possible and education will improve in underprivileged countries.
But will it improve with technology? Will it improve when I travel and I see 95 percent of children on facebook or youtube not engaging in any kind of learning. Will it improve when I am sitting on a train seeing everyone stare down at their phone kids, adults, mothers, working class, and men. Is this right for our children of the world and education and is this right for the industry of books and publishing?
With my vision distorted by technology, I have disappeared from facebook for three years and social networking is not in my time schedule nor does it fit my interests. Although, as a few of the panelists(authors, book critics, and readers) mentioned, it's a social trend that we can't just ignore otherwise....we will be left behind. Just like lovely Regina, I'm in love with books and yes I still order hardcover books on Amazon. Never read an e-book, but doesn't anyone get tired of staring at screens? That is my thought process as I am always on the computer or researching/writing something on my phone.
As a writer who has interest in turning into an author, I am told that social networking is a piece of publishing, but not a requirement for every publisher. I am also told, "Priscilla you need to get in the game." The thing with entering into cyberspace is that it is a insincere space that does not promote true interpersonal interaction. It is not beneficial to human behavior and I witness it's negative presence around the globe. It can be educational, but what percent is using it for those purposes?
The main point I would like to drive home is that technology is a preference and I believe I can become an Author without conforming to social norms. It's truly about advocacy for people and believing in their abilities to communicate without technology. When I gave up social networking, I did it for a reason and I want to keep reminding myself of humanity and what it stands for in my theory and life defined. Technology will consume one and continue to decrease our interpersonal interaction. In ten years, what will be left?
Ebooks, Hardcover books, pamphlets, Newsletters...JUST READ
As I attended with a couple writers, they were just "Full house lovers," which was most of the audience. I was concerned for these people so excited to hear about Full House and ask about his character. People don't realize that this man has a new character to speak about. Give him a chance.
When he walked out, he was confident, kind with PG13 humor. He had such great charisma and personality. He addressed everyone in the audience with such sincerity and curiosity. We had a moment when I asked a couple questions about "Writing and Memoir." His kindness connected right with me and he gave me this amazing response identifying his strengths, weaknesses, and editors remarks/comments. This man was so incredibly kind and supportive. I felt his support more than most people in my immediate environment. He cared about his audience, he cared about his words, and he cared about himself.
Where is all this going? Danny Tanner changed into his real self. In his book, he revealed his deepest, darkest secrets, exposed the truth, and identified with who he had become. As he said, it was "cathartic" for him and I would also add "liberating." The vulgar behavior was stemming from the desire to rebel against a "perfect self" that he definitely was not. This man started a new Chapter of life with this book by addressing the past, his present, and the future he wants to have.
This was just me the psychoanalyst in love with people saying "Yes!!!"
Let people live in their own skin and be who they want to be. This is an example of what happens when you do. This man was glowing, happy, caring, and you could feel his positive spirit. This was not the man I heard of in LA. He started fresh with a new coat of paint! This is what Priscilla is rooting for in the life of everyone!
Thank you Bob for that fantastic and completely unexpected discussion. I am happy for your new Chapter in life!
Expect the Unexpected and Remember Everyone has a Story to Tell
Well our Full House friend, Danny Tanner has changed quite a bit over the years. It came to my attention when living in LA that Danny turned into quite a vulgar comedian. It was also clear to me he was going through a bit of an identity crisis. It's expected after aging, divorce, insecurities heightened by being compared to the most beautiful man ever John Stamos, but mainly being portrayed as someone you are not for ten years.
What people don't realize is that actors are associated to a character for pretty much a lifetime. Someone will most likely, at one point or another in life, be able to recognize them and comment on their character. Fans have their own perception of how you act, talk, walk, smile, think, behave. Since they know that character-they know everything about you. How do I know This? I have had many interactions with celebrities and friends who were actors. It is just the scene in the superficially stunning-Los Angeles.
Clearly, this is not always the case, but if we can think about the actor-it's not an easy life being compared to someone who is your opposite. Danny Tanner is the opposite of Bob Saget and he makes this clear in his book discussion, "Dirty Daddy." From my psych perspective, it can almost be like a transgender person(not the same at all just a comparison) who is stuck in the wrong body. You eat, dress, walk, and behave like a woman, but your heart and soul is truly a man. Bob Saget did not experience anything with transgender identity, but his real self was hidden by a character that did not represent his true self.
Now, someone is thinking, "Why would you go listen to him promoting a book called Dirty Daddy?" This is some commercial garbage book ?"
If John Stamos was sitting beside him that would be my only reason.
Unfortunately, he was not present. To be honest, I had seen his picture and had no intention or interest in seeing him, but then my psychology heart drew me in.
What happened to this man? It was clear to me with just his book title that he finally decided to stop the bizarre behavior and just identify with his true self. People like this make me very happy and I wanted to witness that...and maybe tell him I love John Stamos ( sincerely the second reason!)
WELCOMING FEELINGS OF ALL KINDS AND SORTS OF
THOUGHTS, IDEAS, BELIEFS, PERSPECTIVES
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS!
Only request is to be respectful of my writing, experiences, thoughts, theories, and beliefs. Those who also provide feedback and participate should receive respect as well with judgment at a minimal. I am excited to finally connect with many friends in this space from United States and all over the world.
It's my hope that this blog will not just be about my life, but it will make you think about your-lifestyle, relationships, spirituality, work, children/family, and purpose. Any awareness into how we think, feel, and behave is a step in the right direction.
It is with YOUR feedback that I can improve the content of my blog. As mentioned, I want YOU to be the focus of my writing. I want to write on topics that are thought provoking and interesting. My purpose gives me satisfaction helping others, inspiring, answering questions, hearing stories, addressing difficulties/challenges/obstacles, and assisting those encountering Mental Health issues. People have blogs for different purposes and mine is to share my life knowledge and experiences while being a support to those who need guidance or have a desire to learn.
While computers and technology are not
my strengths, I will try my best to make it interactive and not all text. I know that is very boring and the attention span is not happy. As time goes by, there will be more You tube videos of my speaking and travels.
Of course, there are a million blogs to read, but I hope you find mine to be......
Interesting Exciting Adventurous Inspiring
Entertaining Helpful Insightful Unique
Priscilla CL Raj is a Therapist, Missionary, Writer, English Teacher. She is an enthusiast who is passionately purposeful in her life.