Oh, no! Not another blog. Yep. Blame it all on the San Francisco Writers Conference. I had no intention of attending the mid-February event until my middle grade children’s novel Jitterbug was chosen as a finalist in the writing contest. Completely jazzed by the possibility of public recognition (I freely admit to being a small ham), I mortgaged the dog and signed up for the four-day hoopla. While Jitterbug didn’t win the writing contest, I certainly came out the winner.
What a confab! No conference I ever attended as a writer or as a lawyer has ever left me so exhausted and so full of ideas. Every writer’s conference I had attended before had been primarily about craft. This event, founded and directed by the Larsen Pomada Literary Agency, focused on the business of writing. Do you have a card? A web site? A blog? What is your pitch? Your platform? Do you tweet? Well, I got as far as the cards, at least.
With ninety-five presenters plus twenty-five or more agents, the place echoed with advice. Speed-dating with the agents was the most exhilarating (read terrifying), but the most inspiring was luncheon speaker Jacqueline Mitchard. She wrote The Deep End of the Ocean which was the first book chosen by Oprah to be in her book club. Writer of multiple adult novels as well as children’s books, wealthy beyond most writers’ belief, Mitchard had it made.
Then tragedy took the stage. A harmless slip into a new spa with a missing step led to debilitating back injuries, several surgeries and other treatments. Barely beginning to recover, she and her husband, to their own surprise, decided to adopt their eighth and ninth children. Shortly before the girls were to arrive from Somalia, Mitchard’s fortune evaporated thanks to the machinations of an unscrupulous financier. Could their four college students complete their educations? Could they pay the mortgage on even one house? Could they go through with the adoption?
A wonderful speaker, Jacqueline Mitchard turns high tragedy into high comedy. If you ever have the chance to hear her, grab it. You won’t learn anything about writing or even the writing life, but you will surely learn a great deal about life from someone who dares to live fully.