03 May 2010

The Downside of the OWFI Conference (or Any Writing Conference)

Okay, so here's the downside of the recently concluded Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Conference:

You returned home Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

You're stoked. The fires were lit, fanned, and constantly refueled with words of wisdom and encouragement from editors, agents, speakers, and experienced writers.

An inferno of creativeness, determination, and confidence is blasting from you like the Krakatoa volcano

This incendiary feeling will last from two days to two weeks.

But, it will burn itself out. Before you know it, one or two embers remain, and soon they have barely a faint orange glow and not putting off much inspirational heat.

Then the last flicker goes out, and you think, "Shit, what just happened?"

Welcome to the junkie writer's world of conference adrenaline rush addiction.

It happens to all of us, especially the newbies and those most hungry.

What happens when you discover that last dying ember is about to extinguish itself?

You keep writing. 

You fan and refuel the fire yourself. You push yourself to do what you know you must do, what you dream about doing--you write no matter what.

The muses of writing won't do for you what you won't do for yourself--write!

In fact, you inspired yourself to attend the convention in the first place, so you already have it within you to push yourself to be a successful writer.

Now comes the hard part--doing this every day with every breath you take.

Copy the following and tape to the wall just by your monitor or make it your screensaver:

1. Taking a writing class . . . is not writing.
2. Therapy . . . is not writing.
3. Reading books about writing . . . is not writing.
4. Completing "writing" exercises . . . is not writing.
5. Feeling guilty all week for not writing . . . is not writing.
6. Attending a weekly, bi-monthly, monthly writing/critique group . . . is not writing.
7. Attending an interesting, dynamic, and inspirational writer's conference . . . is not writing.
8. Writing . . . is writing.

And that's it in a nutshell.

The Oklahoma Writers Federation annual conference is one of the best in the nation and each year provides an excellent agenda for newbies, oldies, unpublished, multipublished, and the curious.

Yes, it can be inspirational. Yes, it can rekindle a dying flame. Yes, it can even bring about an agent or editor contract.

But, neither the OWFI conference or any writing conference can do the one thing you are solely responsible for doing:

Inspiring yourself each day to do the hard task of putting butt to chair, finger tips to keys, and mind to the writing task at hand.

I liken this to BBQing. The best white-crested orange coals for BBQing are those which, when lit, are slow to burn, spread evenly, and then the flame disappears as it moves slowly into the briquette itself.

Once that flame moves within the briquette, you never see the flame itself, but you do feel the heat, and you see, hear, and smell the sizzle as it does what it's suppose to do--produce a succulent and satisfying meal you can taste and savor.

Of course, there's always that yahoo BBQer who buys self-lighting charcoal and then soaks the briquettes with lighter fluid. There's a very nice explosion of flame and surge of heat, but it dies quickly, and the charcoal never really gets the chance to suck in the flame so it can burn slowly from the inside out.

So, what about you and the OWFI conference or any writer's conference you may have recently attended?

charcoalAre you the self-lighting charcoal that burns slowly on the outside and then ignites on the inside--a steady, determined white-crested orange glow?

Or, are you the charcoal that allowed your writer's conference to soak you with fuel and then engulf you in a flame that will die out quickly and produce nothing?

See you on the bookshelves.

Larry Mike Garmon

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