No matter which part of the writing spectrum you occupy you will pursue craft until your screen permanently freezes, you run out of ink, or your pencil breaks. It is not captured like a butterfly; rather, is constantly chased like a puppy on a beach—apt to bolt again as soon as the cookie gets munched. It is no more mastered than science has nowhere left to go, yet remains the skeleton on which stories hang to make them clear, dramatic, scary, informative, and all things conjured by our writerly imaginations.
So where do we find this craft thing?
Reading, for one. Watch how the masters do it. Deconstruct their stories with a view toward understanding how they deploy language to evoke your reactions (good as well as not.) Also, shelves of how-to books are available on every aspect of writing, none necessarily definitive but cumulatively cover all the bases. Finally, are conferences at which experienced moderators offer three or more hours of discussion on some aspect of writing and publishing—or more intensely interactive, master classes. Many also offer panels on particular aspects of the art and the trade.
The best thing about conferences is the community of writers who share our artistic endeavor. As a neophyte fiction writer eight years ago I had read many of the how-to books and learned much, but also discerned inconsistencies. And the novel I began was a wild bronco of a book constantly hurling me to terra firma. A flair for language and a good story idea weren’t enough to tell my tale in a cogent, dramatic way. Worse, the poltergeist of doubt crept in and spooked my morale.
So in 2010 I signed up for my first Philadelphia Writers Conference. I registered for workshops: character, plot, story structure, and others. I entered some of its contests and Glory Be! Won a few! It satisfied me that I had the chops, although still needed a better handle on craft, especially for lengthier work to which I aspired.
I had expected most attendees would be novices but published writers were also there to reinforce the basics (See pgh. 1). And to my relief, conversations with writers more experienced than I revealed struggles with the same story goblins that challenged me.
But the camaraderie was best. My idea of a good time is being with other writers talking about writing. All the creative faculties which comprise writers render them inherently interesting. As a bonus, they (we) are the least hierarchical and most eager to share experience than any other group I’ve experienced over what’s getting to be a long life.
I sign up for the PWC every year. I go to other conferences too, but PWC remains my favorite—large enough to attract experienced presenters, small enough to get to know them.
So come, hang out with us. Be in the club. Rub elbows. Learn craft. Find therapy. Become known. Stop what you’re doing and sign up for the Philadelphia Writers Conference.
Raise the flag, we’ll salute!
See you there!
Lanny Larcinese is a PWC regular and author of the noir crime novel, “I Detest All My Sins,” as well as the memoir, “Women, One Man’s Journey.” His novel, “Dear Dad, They’re Dead,” is under contract and is due out late summer 2019. Stop by lannylarcinese.com to learn more about Lanny.