Learning is about more than simply acquiring new knowledge and insights; it is also crucial to unlearn old knowledge that has outlived its relevance. Thus, forgetting is probably at least as important as learning.
–Gary Ryan Blair ( Mind Munchies: A Delicious Assortment of Brain Snacks!)
I spent the weekend at Context 22, a science fiction/horror/fantasy conference in Columbus, Ohio this weekend, but not to watch the old animated cartoons of Star Trek, discuss the future of filk, or to dress up like my favorite serial killer. I went to forget–and then learn again– how to write.
Since I’ve learned about the Master’s Program in Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, I’ve been dying to go. At my level of ability, after publishing for 35 years, I really get the most from a professional level course. The faculty in the program are highly respected, and you can even commute for mini-sessions on campus and work independently the rest of the time. Heaven.
But in the meantime, a Pennwriters member of the Seton Hill faculty, Timon Esaias, sent a memo to the group, pointing out that many of the faculty would be giving significant two- and three-hour writing workshops at this Context conference, similar educational information without the university price tag.
Believe me, I’m there.
So this weekend I learned about maintaining narrative tension from Lawrence Connolly, who one reviewer has compared to Tarantino; joined a discussion about the new Young Adult market, what’s in (sex and violence), what’s out (Pollyanna stories) and what’s controversial (everything!) from Ellen Klages, who talked about writing historical fiction and read from her book The Green Glass Sea (which I can’t wait to read); got about the best 15 minutes of hard advice about writing and rewriting fiction I’ve ever heard from Tim Waggoner; and soaked in three hours on point of view from “Norbert and the System” author Tim Esaias.
We left with sheets of references, recommendations and notebooks full of hope. For less than $200. Wow.
Of course, the icing for me was a one-on-one session with Juno Books editor Paula Guran, who critiqued a manuscript I started in NaNoWriMo–her suggestions were fabulous and resonated in my heart of hearts. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to hear what she had to say, but then for her to take the time to inquire about what else I had written that might be appropriate for her line, as well as what I was currently writing (which isn’t a Juno-type book, but she had great insight there too!)–I was floored. In a good way.
She has yet to look at my paranormal manuscript which I’ve submitted to Juno under their regular guidelines; she said she wanted to get through the conference first, and she vets her full manuscripts a little differently. So, I’ll firmly believe that no news on this may be good news. Stand by for updates.
So I forgot some, and I learned some, and I’m considering some. And Little Miss got an hour in the hot tub, so she’s happy. What else can you ask?