Over the past two weekends I attended two writers conferences and spent time among talented and dedicated writers sharing their craft and art.
The speakers and attendees at the conferences – the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group’s The Write Stuff, and the 12th Annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference – offered insights into their thought and creative processes in addition to publishing and marketing tips.
Taken as a whole, all this discuss is the literary equivalent of inside baseball, that is, details so specific to craft that they might elude the regular person.
It’s like we writers are sitting in the bullpen during a game discussing how to best throw a curveball at the end of the game when it matters.
At one conference I made a reference to an odd, archly academic review of one of the early Frank Nagler Mysteries, and as I do, I made half a statement.
The reviewer was so concerned that the story was told from the traditional single protagonist point of view that limited the views of other characters, or something like that, they actually said nothing about the story itself.
The rest of my statement would be this: Fiction is entertainment no matter how serious the subject. The goal is to engage the reader with a story so that all the techniques that have been discussed and analyzed are so seamlessly woven into the telling of the story the reader’s reaction would be: I read it in one setting, or over the weekend, I was moved to tears, moved to anger; was enthralled, enraptured. When’s the next one coming out; so deeply hidden are the techniques — the nuts and bolts of the story – that the reader only sees the smooth finish.
Our best defense against such detached reviews (I know, don’t read reviews) is to write great stories. In other words to be the pitcher at the end of the game who throws a curve ball that breaks downward three feet leaving the hitter helplessly flailing away.
And that’s hard.
But as manager Jimmy Dugan said in the film “A League Of Their Own, the terrific story of the World War II era women’s baseball league, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
So, here’s to the hard and the great.