Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

WI 2018 — Remember the Joy

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Laurie Scheer’s Welcome

Aaaand, they’re off! It’s Laurie Scheer at the podium, welcoming writers to the 29th annual Writers’ Institute. Writers of many ages, many genres, from many different locations gather for a full weekend of things writing related.

Pssst. Hey, Laurie, what’s up with the lousy weather this year?

There were presentations on Thursday afternoon, but I waited until the official welcome on Friday to start my Writers’ Institute experience this year.

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Ann Voss Peterson

Our keynote speaker this year was a UW-Madison alum, Ann Voss Peterson, who brought along her Wonder Woman action figure. She’s written 49 novels and novellas, and is a writing partner of J. A. Konrath. She spoke on “A Writer’s Life”, and gave us a short list of tasks for every writer that I’m going to have to post somewhere.

She listed four characteristics of successful writers:

Openness to learning — keep learning the craft though classes, conferences, and reading books.

Willingness to work — don’t see it as “work”, see it as writing “practice”. Even professional athletes practice to be really good.

Willingness to take risks — yes, show your writing to other people, send out those queries, enter that contest.

Perseverence — yep. This was Hank Phillippi Ryan’s point in her keynote speech a couple years ago. Gotta keep moving forward.

She went on to remind us to define our vision of a successful writer’s life (p.s.: the most important thing in this vision should be to WRITE), that we should set goals that you can control, to connect with the writing community, and remember why you wanted to write in the first place.

Once you remember why you wanted to write in the first place, figure out how to make it concrete so you can remember the joy of writing. Her Wonder Woman reminds her of playing with action figures as a kid, and making up stories. When she needs to remember, she can take a few minutes to play with her action figures and reconnect with that joy.

We–my Writing Sister and I–did the “10 Clues to Writing Mysteries” presentation, which went well considering it was my first one. There were so many good presentations running at the same time that our room was pretty empty.

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The Writing Sisters panel

Our Writing Sisters panel also played to a sparse audience, but again, there were a number of great presentations going on at the same time. By giving other writers a peek into how our group works, we gave them ideas on building their own writing group, even if it’s only a writing partner to start.

Now, don’t tell my Muse, but I went to a presentation about growing your creativity, which included introducing a few new muses for writers. Aha-phrodite gives us the act of paying attention. Albert (Einstein) leads us to think and ask questions; he likes lists and putting 2 unlike things together to see what happens. The Spirit of Play helps us make our creative process more fun. And Audacity … Okay, I missed the notes on that one. Anyway, it was an interesting presentation. My takeaway: take time to pause and be grounded/centered.

Tomorrow is when the weather really starts moving in. Rain, wind, cold, and eventually freezing rain and snow. Sunday is supposed to be a snowstorm in both Wisconsin and Minnesota (MN’s starts tomorrow, with predicted snow from 6 to 10 inches), so I’m going to shelter in place until Monday.

It’ll give me some time to actually get some writing done. Or at least write down the plotlines my Writing Sisters helped me work out for Book 2. These past days with my Sisters have been fabulous, with all of us together again.

This weekend charges my writing energy battery. Now to ride that energy, and hopefully sustain it.

A hearty thanks to Laurie Scheer and her tireless second-in-command, Laura Kahl. Next year is number 30, and I think Laurie has me on her list, so I’ll be back again.

Remember the joy of writing, the excitement and wonder. Oh, and stay safe if you’re in the path of Old Man Winter, who needs to go back home and let Spring have the floor.

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Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", will be released in March, 2019, by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, three chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

29 thoughts on “WI 2018 — Remember the Joy

  1. It sounds as though you had a great experience! And I like that message of tapping into the joy of writing, and taking some risks with it, too. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I’m in IL and our weather is crummy this weekend. Kind of a lame spring so far!

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  3. Sorry the audience was sparse, but glad you had a good time and got energized. At least that awful weather gives you an excuse to stay indoors and write! πŸ™‚

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  4. Sounds wonderful, Julie. I’ll tell my muse not to spill the beans about some of your new acquaintances. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you’re energized! Happy Writing!

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  5. An interesting and inspiring write! Thanks for sharing… πŸ™‚

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  6. I”m late in seeing this post so I know you got slammed with snow. Ugh! At least you got to hang with your writing sisters and experience an excellent conference. Even if you didn’t have a huge audience for your panels, Im sure the experience was wonderful. Thanks for sharing it with us. I’m sure you had an awesome time!

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    • Don’t worry about being late–I think it’s going to take me a week to catch up on all the blogs I’ve missed πŸ™‚ It was a great weekend, even with the weather demons. And the whole gang was together, which made it that much more special. Yep, had a great time!!

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  7. Pingback: To Our 29th Annual Writers’ Institute Attendees – THANK YOU! « UW-Madison Writers' Institute

  8. Good to get a first glimpse at how the conference went, Julie. I hope you’ll be sharing more. How wonderful to be with your sisters and get energized. Old man winter cannot deny you that! It has been horrid in Maine but no snow – just cold, rain, and blustery winds.

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  9. A wonderful experience for you and many thanks for the lovely message about writing

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  10. I appreciate posts like this. While I wasn’t at the conference, I get to reap the benefits of the conference. I’m heading to one here in a couple of weeks. Hoping to get a novel published. Thanks for passing along your insights!

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  11. Julie, what a great conference and buzzing with some of the ideas you mention – it’s so important never to forget why you started writing in the first place! Congratulations on your part of the presentation and yeah, I was excited to see a photo…scoured the name cards and then realised you were taking the picture! Darn! I’m sure your Mue won’t take umbrage at your attendance at the creativity presentation… maybe you can teach him a thing or two! If you get a word in edgeways!πŸ˜€

    A glorious day here in the UK and the warmest day on this date for over seventy years … I’m actually seeking refuge in th coolest part of the house as it hits 26 degrees centigrade. It’s amazino but a shock too and as if something remembered from long ago! Have a lovely day and hope the sun shines soon. Xx

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    • It was a great conference. And in the picture, check out the chick in the purple sweater. That’s moi. One of my other writing sisters took the picture (she has a way of escaping pictures by being the photographer πŸ˜‰ )

      Holy smokes! That’s almost 80 F. Wow. Next week we’ll finally see our first 60 F day since November πŸ˜€ Sun shining today, and hopefully Spring will hang on this time πŸ˜€ Have a great week, Annika!

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