Spy Flash – Week 14

There’s something about the summer that conspires to interfere with writing. You spend more time outdoors, either playing or doing yardwork or taking grandkids to the pool. Then, you realize it’s Tuesday, the day before the Rory’s Story Cube prompt goes up on Jennie Coughlin’s web site, and you haven’t written last week’s story yet. Oh, the idea came to you right away, but finding the time to write was difficult.

So, despite the fact that another manuscript was insisting that I resume my edit of it, I sat down and wrote the story, which explores an interesting aspect of the personal and professional relationship between Mai Fisher and Alexei Bukharin.

Here’s this week’s roll of the cubes: 

And here’s what I saw: l. to r. – digging/digging a hole; compass rose/360°; entering a combination; apple; bridge; listening/earphone; padlock; beetle; knocking on a door.

This week’s story is called “Inconsequential Promises,” and if you don’t see the link on the title, hover your cursor over the Spy Flash above and select it from the drop-down menu.

If you’d like to give the Rory’s Story Cubes Challenge a try, take a look at the picture prompt above and write a story of any length using all the objects and actions shown. Your interpretation may be different from mine, but that’s just fine; it’s what you see in the cubes. Post a link to your story here, and check back there tomorrow for this week’s prompt.

The Year of Conferencing Writerly

At the beginning of 2012, I vowed to make regular attendance at writers conferences and workshops part of my writing life for the new year. So far, I’m on a roll.

March was AWP in Chicago, IL. Very intimate. Just me and 10,000 other writers. But it was an energizing experience, and I got to hear Margaret Atwood speak–one of my inspirations. I went to amazing panels and heard amazing writers read from their works. I came away thrilled that I was a minor character in such a life-affirming play.

March also brought the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, VA. It’s a bit disingenuous to call this a local conference because, though it highlights Virginia writers, the reach goes beyond the Commonwealth. The panels here are not entirely craft-focused, but they are practical. Where else would I have learned how to use Pinterest to market books?

In June there was Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop in Roanoke, VA. I blogged a great deal about that week, so I won’t belabor any points previously made. I’ll just say I’m still aloft on that cloud of euphoria. And I’ll be back for more next year and not just for the strength of the workshops and the quality of the instructors but also for the friends I made there.

Upcoming is the Virginia Writers Club’s “Navigating the Writing Life” on August 4 in Charlottesville, VA. This is a one-day conference packed with useful workshops, and if you’re within a few states of Virginia, I encourage you to make the trip.

Also in August on the 18th, is a one-day “Gathering of Writers” sponsored by Press 53 and held in Winston-Salem, NC. I’m making a weekend of it and am looking forward to a packed day of craft workshops and meeting great writers.

And last, thus far, and certainly not least is the James River Writers Conference in Richmond, VA. Last year I only went for the day and missed out on a lot. This year because the conference has grown in attendance, it’s moving to the Richmond Civic Center. Friday will be two intensive workshops, then Saturday and Sunday craft panels and readings by Virginia writers. I haven’t yet worked up the nerve for First Pages or the five-minute agent pitches. There’s always next year.

Has it been worth it? Oh, yes. There’s always something more to learn about writing, about yourself as a writer, and the writing life. And writers network, too. There’s nothing like shared experiences to bond people, and it’s always great to know you’re not the only one being rejected by publications.

The only problem is, once you starting going to writing conferences, you keep going back! In this case, that’s a good thing.