Let me first apologize for the title of this post. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bad pun. That’s the first truth in this story. The second truth is that I LOVE a bad pun. The badder the better, as far as I’m concerned.
But the real star of this post is neither the pun nor the truth, but the confer-ences. Specifically writers’ confer-ences.
If you’re not a writer yourself, you may experience an irrepressible urge to flee or fall asleep at the mention of the such an event. Even some of us who ARE writers may bristle at the idea. For although most writers enjoy writing, not all of us enjoy talking about writing.
Now when I say I may not enjoy talking about writing, I don’t mean talking about what I write. In truth–there it is again–that’s the easy part for me. The characters in my books and short stories–not only those I’ve published but also those still fluttering around in my head–are all so real to me, that I can carry on about them for hours and hours provided I have the time, space, and access to a willing audience. And sometimes even the willing isn’t a requirement.
So what gives me trouble is not talking about WHAT I write, but talking about the HOW. I know it’s sometimes necessary to talk about things like character development and plot pacing; but for me, talking about the elements of a story is like talking about the ingredients of a gourmet meal or a decadent dessert: I know they’re important, but I’d rather talk about the dish or the dessert itself–what it tastes like or what kind of wine to pair with it–rather than the taste, smell, color or consistency of all the stuff that went into it.
It’s not that I don’t care about the elements of a good story. Combine the wrong ingredients–to use the cooking metaphor, again–and you may not get what you set out to make. To paraphrase Rita Rudner, you can mix flour and water to make glue, but if you add sugar and eggs (and baking soda) you’ll get cake.
So the components ARE important when it comes to food–and the same is true for a story–be it a novel or a bit of flash fiction. If you don’t have the right elements, you may not get the product you’re aiming for. But for me, I’d rather talk about the story itself–the characters, what they do, and where, when, how and why.
Which is why this weekend you will find me at the Lakefly Writers Conference at the Waterfront Hotel and Convention Center in Oshkosh. I won’t be presenting on any of the elements of writing. Nor will I be attending any of the workshops discussing any of the elements of writing.
Instead you’ll find me at a table at the Author’s Showcase. I’ll be there, behind a stack of my books and bookmarks, talking about my stories–but not necessarily how I wrote them or why.