The Amazing Abilities of the Creative Mind
On finding theme, plus TONS of Writing Resources!
*For writing links and resources, scroll down.*
*Also, if you’re doing #SFFPit on Thursday, let me know — I’ll be happy to boost your tweets!*
One of the fun things about revision is you can use it as an opportunity to sharpen the themes of your story. The novel I’m revising has a theme of identity, and how we all have many different facets to our personality. It’s been fun to find ways to hint at this through description and subtle details. The theme has always been there, but during the revision process I get to turn it up a notch.
Sometimes we go into projects knowing the major themes we want to explore, and sometimes we don’t. Both are completely valid ways to write. You might have to get to the end of telling a story before you can see the themes that run through it. Or maybe you don’t see the themes until your writing group points them out to you. I’ve definitely had that happen, and I wonder if my subconscious mind knew the themes it was planting long before Conscious Eva noticed them.
Such was the case with my short story “Liz Taylor.” I wrote this story when I was living in New Orleans and getting my MFA. I’d recently been to a boozy party where I met a man who did celebrity impersonations at a drag show in the French Quarter. Also at the party was my smart and beautiful friend who had just moved in with her wealthy-but-seemingly-empty-headed boyfriend, and I couldn’t understand why she was taking it to the next level with him.
Those two incidents were the germs for the story. It wasn’t until I finished “Liz Taylor,” let it sit for a week, and then came back to it that I understood I had written a story with the theme of real versus fake. A story about people pretending. Pretending to be someone they aren’t. Maybe even pretending their relationship is something it isn’t.
I really didn’t know that’s what the story was about until I finished writing it. And once I figured it out, I went back and added details to support and enhance the theme.
I’m not sure how I feel about “Liz Taylor” over all. It’s definitely not my favorite story — I think it ends too abruptly, for one thing — but it’s a reminder to me of the amazing abilities of the creative mind.
“Liz Taylor” was originally published in Talking River Review. Paid subscribers can read it and feel free to let me know what you think!
Something Big is Coming
Thanks to everyone who filled out the reader poll last time. It seems that 75% of you are writing or revising a novel or memoir. Based on your responses, I have an idea of what might be quite helpful to you all, especially those working on book-length manuscripts.
So… in September I will be offering something really big and exciting to my paid subscribers. Stay tuned. I’ll be announcing details soon.
Writing News & Resources
For All Writers:
Interested in writing poetry? The wonderful Nancy Reddy is teaching an online Foundations of Poetry class this fall — applications due August 30.
Trying to write a novel but getting stuck? Check out my virtual course Getting Started on Your Novel! This series of do-it-on-your-own-time lessons will help you brainstorm ideas and develop your characters, plot, and setting. At the end of the course you will have great opening chapters and a plan to finish the manuscript. All five lessons are available now for paid subscribers.
Globe Soup is hosting an Open Short Story Competition. There’s no theme and the word count limit is 8,000. Early bird entry fee is £5 and the winner will receive £1,500. Entry deadline TODAY, August 23.
The Pipeline Artists Symposium is hosting an online talk on Self-Publishing: The Fundamentals and Beyond. Happening TOMORROW, August 24 for $35.
Looking for a critique partner? Savvy Authors is now offering a free CritMatch Program to help match-make authors looking for feedback partners.
International Literary Seminars is launching a unique and intensive series of workshops, lectures, and cultural offerings. Apply for this year’s program, held in Kenya (application deadline Oct. 15), and check out the website for contests, fellowships, and other offerings.
The Book Pipeline: Adaptation Contest seeks published books, graphic novels, and short stories for film and TV development. Both traditional and self-published material accepted. Deadline is August 31.
Check out these 7 Tips for Working with Beta Readers (and How to Get Useful Feedback) from April Davila.
Did you know there are some top-notch indie publishers to whom you can submit… without having an agent? Here are just a few. Make sure your manuscript is TRULY ready, and be sure to do your research before you query!
Polis Publishing (they published Mexican Gothic!!)
North Star Editions (check out their kidlit imprints Flux and Jellyfish)
Page Street Publishing (is distributed by MacMillion)
Holiday House (books for young readers)
Persea Books (adult literary books)
Quirk Books (they publish quirky books, obviously; they published the Miss Peregrine’s books and Pride & Zombies!)
Levine Querido (they publish books for young people with a focus on authors and creators from underrepresented backgrounds)
For Querying Writers:
The Good Story Co. is hosting another pitch-your-premise contest! Story Snob’s Pitch Contest will take place TOMORROW, August 24, for only $5.
Check out this very cool mentoring/pitching event called #PitchMe, taking place this fall. Here’s the timeline:
September 8: The submission window opens
September 22: Selected submissions announced
September 22-October 19: Mentoring takes place
October 20: Revised Twitter pitches posted; agents like their favorites
Every Friday, Operation Awesome offers one free query critique through their #QueryFriday contest.
The Pass or Pages Query Contest will be held October 3-7. Win feedback from agents about whether they would pass or request pages based on your query. Free!
The Savvy Authors Pitch Fest will be held October 26-28. Pitch in an online forum to agents and editors (for free)!
Submission is open from now until Nov. 4 for the Blue Pencil Agency Pitch Prize. I don’t know much about this, but might be worth looking into. Entry fee is £12.
The querying trenches are rough right now, and Twitter pitch parties can feel like shouting into the void with thousands of other screaming writers, but still, as I always say, it’s a great way to meet other writers and it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. (After all, I found my agent through a Twitter pitch party. I am now an official success story!) So mark your calendar for these upcoming Twitter pitch parties. And be sure to read my article 13 Things to Know About Twitter Pitch Events.
August 25: #SFFPit — Twitter pitch for all unagented authors of sci-fi and fantasy.
September 15: #LatinxPitch — Twitter pitch for all unagented and agented Kidlit LATINX authors, author-illustrators, and illustrators
October: #PitDark — Twitter pitch for all unagented authors of horror, mystery, thriller, paranormal, and anything else with a “dark” vibe. Date TBA.
WOWCON, WriteMentor’s online conference for kidlit writers, is coming up September 24 - 26.
This New York Write to Pitch 2022 Conference looks intriguing. The Zoom portion is September 8-11 and the live part is September 22-25 in NYC. And there are pre- and post-content, too. They are calling it The Premier Career Launcher for Aspiring Authors. I’m going to be honest, there’s so much going on with this conference I’d need an entire day to study and digest the website, but it looks very professional and comprehensive, so take a look for yourself!
This year the Writing Day Workshop “How to Get Published” Conferences will be held virtually. I attended one of these conferences in person a few years ago in Philadelphia, and I thought it was fantastic. I can’t vouch for the virtual version, but there are some benefits: recorded classes, no travel expenses, attend in your comfy pants. Plus, you can sign up for Zoom pitch sessions with agents for $29 a piece. Check out the upcoming conferences (and remember, anyone can attend from anywhere; just keep the time zone in mind).
Registration is now open for the ginormous AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs). It’s being held in March 2023 in Seattle, which is one of my favorite cities. Go as an excuse to visit Seattle. Go to check out the enormous book fair, filled with representatives from lit mags and small presses. Heck, go for the dance party alone because nothing is more awkwardly fun than a bunch of introverted and tipsy writers busting moves on the dance floor.
For more writing conferences, check out this list or this list of 19 Writing Conferences for Emerging and Established Writers.
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