Yesterday evening at a Borders bookstore there was a St. Louis Writer's Guild event. Linda O'Connell was part of a panel about the road to publication. (And don't tell anyone, but I would have preferred to hear just her; she spoke practically, and with passion.)
Linda said many things that resonated with me. She called her self a "rule-breaker." Daring to blaze trails often results in her getting a foot in the door. She may occasionally get rebuffed, but in her case, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
|Linda O'Connell---part of a panel on the perils of publication|
She also told stories about how she takes a call for submissions and "twists" it to suit her purposes. For example, there was a call for stories about Valentine's Day dates. (I hope I am remembering the details correctly. If not, blame my old age, my hot flashes, the awful cold I have, or all of the above...) Linda didn't have a story about a date on Valentine's Day but she did have a story about not having a date. (Her husband was doing shift work on that particular February 14, and they went to the grocery store before he headed off to work. A song came on in the store---one they could jitterbug to---and Bill danced Linda all the way down the cookie aisle.) Think outside the box, is the message I got. Don't think of your cup of story ideas as half empty, but instead, overflowing...
Linda introduced me to Dianna Graveman, which was a weird experience. I mean, I felt as if we were already acquainted; I follow her blog, and look forward to the times when a new post pops up. So talking to her in person was a pleasant change of pace.
Side note: We're both surprised with how much people will regularly spend on a cup of coffee. How can so many folks spend $5 or more every day on something they're just going to pee out in an hour or so? (But don't think Dianna went to the "pee" part. That's only me...)
After (hopefully) passing my cold onto the strange man who sat next to me, I even got a new book I've been drooling over. Andre Dubus III wrote The House of Sand and Fog, one of the saddest books I've ever read. The two main characters are pitted together in such a way, you're rooting for both of them, but a happy compromise? It's simply not possible. I am hoping this book will be just as good...as his earlier novel.
Linda O'Connell and Dianna Graveman are two generous writers. They help out other writers, instead of "hoarding" their talent and knowledge. (Linda gave me a bunch of practical suggestions on a piece I'm working on. That took time away from her own writing, but she graciously did it anyway.)
Do you have a story about a fellow writer who was generous? (Probably you have too many tales to tell, if you have good writing friends...) Share them. It's always good to give collaborators a shout out.