Today’s guest author, Mason Carroll, is the final in this series, but he wraps up with a bang. We’ve spoken off and on since DFWCon, and I’m happy to feature his work here on my blog. I hope you enjoyed his writing as much as I have.
by Mason Carroll
It’s been over a month since DFWCon and I’m still processing all that I learned.
Yet, that’s just it. The more I think about it, the more I realize I didn’t really learn a ton. It’s not that there was nothing to learn, it’s that the things I learned were things I already knew.
Call it a reeducation or a reminder. Call it a reawakening.
The truth is, I was scared to go to this convention. In his book On Writing, Stephen King seems to have what I would describe as a negative opinion of conventions or writer’s gatherings. I, for my own reasons had similar thoughts. “Seriously, how many famous authors ever went to a convention and suddenly became the great authors we all know and love?”
No matter the answer, regardless of the truth, I went. A slight nudge from a dear friend helped me make the choice, and I’m truly happy that I did go. Despite all my apprehension, despite that I really didn’t learn anything -new-, even if I never get published, what I discovered at DFW Con is worth more than the couple hundred dollars I spent on the ticket and gas.
I met some wonderful people. To name but a few, Krystal Sanders and Gregory Attaway, with whom I now meet once every other week for a writing group. We read each other’s works in progress and offer our criticism and praise. (My first submission will be read this Thursday and I’m a nervous wreck.)
Andrea McAuley, a fellow fantasy writer who provided the impetus for this piece and with whom I spent two hours writing word sprints just weeks ago. (The words were terrible, but I credit her asking for a writing partner and those two hours with getting me past a rough spot in my novel.)
I met several other people, all of whom were wonderful but I feel I should give a special shout out to literary agent Lauren Spieller. Despite it being late in the evening and the end of the mixer on Saturday, she took a moment out of her night to listen to some awkward geek share his idea for a story. After my sputtering attempt at a pitch, she seemed genuinely interested.
“I’ll tell you what, whether it’s six months or two years from now, contact me when you have a full manuscript. Just remind me it’s the fantasy story with the bad ass, dress wearing lady.”
I am scatter brained. Absent minded, even, but I’ll still remember those words until the day I die. She handed me her card, which I still have taped to the left side of my desk. I remember it well.
And that leads me to what I discovered. Beyond the self-doubt class and the distancing words class and all the others, I learned more about myself than I did about writing.
I’ve always considered myself a ‘self-taught’ writer. I didn’t take many classes on literature or writing, I just wrote. I took what was in my head and put it down on paper. When I was at my best, it came from my heart.
When some big-time agent showed just an ounce of interest in my story idea, when she gave me a hug when I told her about my mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, I understood. Just write.
Let me write that again.
Sometimes, my anxiety tells me that it’s pathetic that I needed some random person to like my idea for me to understand that I’m not as terrible at writing as I think. Sometimes, my anxiety tells me that my few beta readers are just telling me I’m good to make me feel good.
At DFW Con, I learned to tell my anxiety to shut the hell up.
I learned that I just need to write. Every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter makes me a better writer.
Even if Lauren gets my manuscript and decides it’s not for her, or not good. I’m still going to write. Even if my novel/story idea does suck (and let’s face it, how many novels get published?) I’m going to write.
I’m going to write because how many people do you know have finished writing a novel?
I’m going to write because the more I write, the more I fall in love with my characters.
I’m going to write because the more I do, the more real my world, the cultures, the people and the history becomes.
I’m going to write because I want to share my story ideas with people.
I’m going to write because the more I write her, my main character (her name is Flavia) reminds me more of my mother before dementia robbed the world of her brilliance. She reminds me of my sister, my aunt and a hundred other strong women in my life who don’t get the respect and credit they deserve.
I’m going to write because the other main character (who has yet to appear) reminds me more and more of myself, in ways I love and despise. He’s what I aspire to be, what I hate about myself, what I wish I could be, and most importantly he represents my hope that all good people deserve a happy ending.
I’m going to write because I love it, because I believe that’s what I was put on this earth to do.
I’m a story teller, and that’s what DWFCon taught me.