Adventures at Realm Makers, Part 1: Pre-Conference Mishaps
Wow, what a week this has been. What a month this has been. As the dust clears and the adrenaline dissipates, I begin to realize that the floor of my room is covered in books with no shelf to call home, my left shoe is somehow missing a lace, I haven’t written in weeks, and all my clean clothes seem to be hiding somewhere deep in the innards of the dryer.
In the last three weeks, I have visited two different states, experienced my first writing conference, and returned home to shoot a short film. In between, I have put in a few full days of music teaching, been stranded on the side of the road due to a faulty water pump in my vehicle, and spent an agonizing twelve hours trying to replace said water pump.
The short film and water pump are stories for future posts. Today, I’d like to talk about my experience at Realm Makers, a conference for writers of Christian speculative fiction.
I first heard of Realm Makers from Jill Williamson, a fabulous speculative writer who I had the good fortune to meet a few years ago. I’ve had it on my to-do list for a while. As some of you know, one of my goals for 2015 was to attend at least one writing conference, and this year Realm Makers happened to be taking place in St. Louis, Missouri, only one state over from me.
Somewhere at the start of the year I wrote “Realm Makers” in black Sharpie on an envelope, and started putting money into the envelope on regular intervals. Other than that, I tried not to think about it too much, because quite honestly, the idea of intentionally putting myself in a place where there will be PEOPLE, many, many PEOPLE whom I do not KNOW IN THE SLIGHTEST and who I will be expected to INTERACT WITH is a terrifying thought.
But soon it was time to pick my classes, editor and publisher appointments, and any other extra-curricular activities I wanted to be involved in at the conference.
What my brain wanted to do: As little as I could possibly get away with. Those chunks of extra-curricular time would be absolutely lovely for, you know, hiding in my dorm room and pretending that I was alone in a submarine hundreds of leagues under the Pacific ocean.
What I actually did: SIGN UP FOR ALL THE THINGS.
Seriously. I signed up for as many appointments as I could, including the critique group session and a one-on-one critique from the keynote speaker, Robert Liparulo. And then thought What have I done.
I was required to send Robert Liparulo ten pages from my work-in-progress, so he could critique it beforehand and then discuss it with me in person at the conference. I grabbed ten pages from my 2nd draft of Weatherman’s Apprentice and went through the usual process of wrestling Microsoft Word into formatting my excerpt to meet the submission guidelines. I’m pretty sure I broke Word in the process, but when I wiped the blood and sweat and manly tears off my laptop screen, voila. My excerpt was all pretty and formatted.
Two days from the conference, I got an email from Robert containing his initial feedback on my excerpt. It was fantastic, encouraging, and made some really good suggestions. But a paragraph near the end made my stomach flip-flop a little. Basically, he suggested that it is generally a good thing to follow submission guidelines, and that attaching 55 pages when the guidelines ask for 10 is probably behavior to avoid in the future.
I said WUT in my head a few times while I reread that paragraph. Did I…?
I went to look at the email I had sent my submission in, and sure enough; I had sent the wrong attachment. Instead of the file nicely labeled Weatherman’s Apprentice excerpt_critique by Robert Liparulo, I had attached a file from the early days of my novella. It was the first five CHAPTERS of my first draft, and it was even labeled as such: Weatherman’s Apprentice_D1_1st 5 chapters.
My mortification was immense. I countered it with several rounds of staring through my fingers at my computer screen and groaning. I then added a new bullet point on my list of things to do once I got to Realm Makers:
- Apologize to Robert Liparulo For Probably Coming Across As an Inconsiderate Jerk.
Will our hero be able to live with his shame? Will Robert Liparulo stab him in the throat with a pen when they meet in person? Will he be able to find any clean clothes to wear over the weekend? Is he ever going to talk about his experience at the actual conference? Find out the answers to MOST of these questions next Monday, in the next installation of this all-new Storymonger adventure. Hopefully. If Braden doesn’t forget that he has a blog and stuff.