We’re in Mexico.
We’re in the new cultural capital of North America; San Miguel de Allende.
It’s been exactly twenty days since I left my comfort zone up in the North.
It’s the day after my last day at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference and I’m speechless.
Where to start?
I had never been to a writers conference before.
Perhaps I didn’t see the point, or perhaps I was just too scared … was I even good enough? What about my age? People will laugh at me when they discover how young I am. A twenty-year-old little girl hoping to make a living off of being a writer … give me a break …
Anyways. So there I was, about to sign up for something I had been reluctant towards doing for years. My heart was pounding and my mind wouldn’t let my body rest; going through a dozen different expectations all at once – and let me tell you: ALL WERE NEGATIVE.
In fact, these were my exact thoughts that moment:
The workshops will probably be rather boring and academic, held by a heavy-eyed professor with hearing-aids and poor eye-sight, located in a classroom with a whiteboard. The speeches will be all about how difficult it really is being a best-selling author (and that you really shouldn’t do it unless you’re prepared for a handful of tears, regrets, and rejections), the authors will most likely not want to talk to you (because let’s face it, when you’re finally famous and over-paid, why would you want to talk to a hopeless nobody, who’s scribbles of writing haven’t even made it to the editor yet, and most probably, never will?) The other participants will be much older, much wiser, much more published and therefore earn the right to meet the younger crowd with arrogance, rejection, and phrases like “so what does your book include – a hundred pages showing text-messages from your smartphone?”
As you can probably tell, I’m not exactly proud of my millennial-generation – without any choice in the matter, I have been automatically put into the category of inarticulate, empty-headed hipsters who, in the future, will be responsible for making the world’s population burn to the grounds and rotten in their own ashes; Also called ignorance.
So you can’t exactly blame me for being scared of talking to adults. They know things! And better yet, they know how stupid we are becoming!
Well, let me tell you what actually happened …
The workshops were held by fun, engaging published authors who didn’t seem to shy away from making a couple of sarcastic jokes every now and then. Not only were their words motivating, but their very presence made you feel like you weren’t alone in the everlasting fight for creative recognition. Every lecture was saturated with a handful of valuable, practical information – advice which you could only receive from those who really know the playing field, not from Google. The location was a beautiful hotel with an enormous garden – and everything was included in the package: The cute coffee-stand with free coffee and pastries, the daily gourmet lunch in the restaurant – catered by the very best chefs
, the outside bookshop, covered by a tent, featuring all the best-selling authors from the states, Canada and Mexico – the public open-mic where unpublished writers would share a piece of their soul in front of an audience, the book-signings – where you could actually have a conversation with your favorite contemporary author whilst getting your book signed, the park where participants would meet, picnic, read or share their scribbled notebooks with one another. AND LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE SPEECHES – The speeches were held by authors who had flown all the way from the US or from Canada, just to inspire struggling writers with their personal stories, their highs and lows, their ten rejections and how they found their loophole through the rocky road to publishing. Most of the writers were exceptionally humorous – something that stunned me and made me think things over; WHY and HOW had I not received this information earlier?
Of course – you have to be FUNNY in order to be a successful writer! (I guess we have a lot to work on, myself and I …)
Trust me on this – it’s not a lie – it’s not flattery – I BROKE OUT LAUGHING ABOUT 10 TIMES on average through every speech. These writers know the game; They know how to turn a vile reality into a Woody-Allen-like joke, they know how to charm and THEY KNOW how to gain the audience’s attention. (So if you’re reading this and you’re an aspiring author – LEARN HOW TO CHARM THE PUBLIC. It’s not the only way, but it’s a good way to get there.)
Oh, and the people – they were the kindest, most generous human beings.
Some DID point out my age, but it wasn’t with arrogance – they were just surprised by how young I was and that I was actually interested in going to a writer’s conference! I even had a conversation with a couple of writers from the US, got some contact-information and on top of that – I was invited to writer’s groups, poetry-cafés and more! I was in heaven!
To sum it up, I will give you a list of a few things I learned – that I didn’t know before entering this conference:
The best writers are humble people (they won’t meet you with arrogance and contempt, but rather with understanding and sympathy. They remember how hard the playing field once was for them and they would like nothing more than to show you guidance and meet you with mutual respect.)
Traditional Publishing is an expired tool (I was also sorry to hear this, but if you want to play, you have to accept the changing times. You can still do it traditionally, but it will be much harder for you to market a book properly and you won’t be able to publish your work under your own rights.)
Being a writer is not just a profession – it’s a lifestyle (If you really want to do this, do it right. If you’re a writer, you’re a living story-teller. You observe everyone and everything around you, every day. You note down random conversations in coffee-shops, you analyze people’s gestures, their weird attributes, their way of expression. You tell stories to your loved ones when you come home after work – what happened, what did you see, what did it make you feel and think? ALWAYS have a pen and paper with you-you never know when you have a good story – and remember – you’re never really out of your office. Your office is wherever YOU go.)
As a writer, you have to be funny (I envy those who started off as stand-up comedians, then turned to literature. Man, they had it easy … Well, for us boring people, we have to practice! Because whether you like it or not, you have to be entertaining on the outside as well as on the inside. Fine, your book is funny as hell, but it doesn’t help if you can’t use this magic in spoken words. STOP BEING SHY. Just … STOP IT! If you are, I want you to stand up and yell out these exact words: I AM NOT SHY!! Now go out of your house and be awesome. Earn those laughs. Because you know you can. Anyone can. It’s just a matter of courage.
Alright, better get to writing — AND watching YouTube videos of standup comedians …
I hope you loved this article, and if you’re wondering about anything else, hit me up on my social media or email:
Aftur S. Nerdrum
#writersconferance #sanmigueldeallende #sanmiguel #smwc19 #2019 #writer #bookworm #howtopublish #tipsforwriting #howtowritewell #blogger