With 17 official faculty and several unofficial “Friends of MWW” (waving to Matthew Clemens and Summer Heacock, among others), attendees were faced with difficult workshop choices. Because of the possibilities available, each participant’s experience was different based on the sessions attended, the friends made, and sometimes the friendships renewed. Many had pitch sessions with one of our five literary agents, and others had a manuscript critique—or not.
Our star-studded faculty included William Kent Krueger and Elizabeth Berg, to name just two. Our interns were like elves, helping to complete many tasks. Plus, the agent panel was a must-see that left a buzz in its wake.
We found our tribes—literally—on Thursday evening, which was life-changing, in some cases. And we spent our days talking about “pacing,” “conflict,” and the extent of our “discoverability.”
How could we forget Kelsey’s marvelous stories, Jess Lourey’s novel-writing pyramid, and William Kent Krueger’s wisdom and encouragement? Plus, Allison Joseph’s and John Tribble’s tips on all things literary? Pam Mandel and Amanda Heckert shared insider secrets from editors. The list never ends.
Over lunch, Jane Friedman reminded us that 1) we should know and use our social media stats 2) “Money Ball” fans are their own demographic and 3) There’s nothing like a GIF demo of the Amazon and Hachett debacle to show how that feud hurts everyone.
For our “Evening with Elizabeth Berg” we were joined by many persons from the city who are fans of the New York Times bestselling author. Some tidbits of the many insights she shared: “Honor your own instincts.” “Don’t be a derivative.” “Don’t be imitative.” “They still need good writers.” This advice was more valuable, knowing it came from someone who, after her first rejection, didn’t submit again for 25 years. She also said to hold nothing back in the writing, and shared that in her debut novel, the father was unsympathetic, much like her own father. That book helped Elizabeth to reshape her relationship with her father.
What can we say about Daniel José Older’s banquet speech? His depiction of working as an EMT in New York City was powerful, vivid and gritty. One thing’s for sure, Daniel’s talk not only pushed the envelope, but it spurred many conversations afterward. We think that’s a good thing. The goal of our planning committee is to s-t-r-e-t-c-h our attendees by including voices, styles, genres, and tones that they haven’t previously encountered. That means spotlighting seasoned writers such as Elizabeth Berg, emerging writers such as Daniel José Older, and future best-selling authors such as the winners of our Manny writing contest.
Last, Nicholas Sparks has nothing on Midwest Writers because we’ve got “The Notebook.” This year’s program notes embody a proverbial treasure trove of information and insights. So when we want to go beyond reminiscing about MWW14, we can grab the notebook. When the snow starts to fly, or whatever winter means to our 234 of attendees who came from 20 states and 3 countries this year, we can relive summer in Muncie.
Don’t get us wrong. We know MWW14 wasn’t perfect—scrambling for chairs at the buttonhole event will be remedied next year—but many have told us they are planning to return in 2015. Yay! The committee is already hard at work to make MWW15 a great one!