Last weekend, September 16th and 17th, Slice Magazine held its first ever writers’ conference. Not only was it the first conference for the mag, but it was the first major writers’ conference to be held in Brooklyn — home to many writers, editors and agents, as well as the Brooklyn Book Festival which took place on September 18th. What a great weekend for literature in Brooklyn!
I first read about the conference in Poets & Writers magazine and I have to say I was daunted at the idea of attending a conference in NYC. Not that I’m a afraid of “the big city” (I lived in NYC for 10 years), but I was afraid of being in a writing environment that I remembered as exclusionary and elitist.
Boy, was I wrong.
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how much I enjoyed and profited from the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference. Because the conference was small and there were so many editors, agents and published writers available, I didn’t feel as though I had to pitch my book every time I talked to someone. And the agents and editors who attended didn’t have to worry about being swarmed every time they stepped out from behind the podium, so they were very accessible. Without even trying, I connected with people with whom I would like to work. I also met and am staying in touch with several fellow writers, one of my goals for the conference. I was relaxed, and listened and learned. And best of all, my novel Antigone Rising is now revived.
I had basically given up after having been rejected by four agents who had read full manuscript. But several agents at the conference were interested in Antigone. So I’ve started a relatively substantive revision based on learning that a debut novel should be 80,000 to 100,000 words; Antigone is currently 134,000 (which I thought was average, not long). I also have a clear idea now of how to fix a big problem in the novel — that there was one big problem looming over everything all the time. A huge thanks for this insight goes to writer Justin Taylor, who led a workshop on character development.
Hopefully, in the next year I’ll be writing here about the wonderful agent who’s sold my book to the wonderful editor who will shepherd it to publication.