Friday, May 18, 2007

Here in Canada, the first big sign that summer is almost here comes with the Victoria Day long weekend. Traditionally, it signifies a country-wide sigh of relief that the days of snow to your waist, biting winds and scraping ice of the car windows is past, at least for a few precious months. It is also like a big housewarming party to summer, full of BBQ chicken, sipping beer on the deck and watching the kids splashing in the sprinkler.

This year, I will spend it in at the annual Get the Lead Out Writers Conference. It's my very first writers conference, and while it is bittersweet because I will be away from my family and friends, and without any BBQ at all, I am still very excited.

I've spent the last year working on my first book, tapping away at the computer endlessly to get it done, then editing and polishing it up, working on the synopsis, and finally submitting it to two major literary award competitions, one of them being this Get the Lead Out competition--all in preparation for the real challenge-publishing. It's been a lot of work, so much more than I originally expected, and yet so satisfying at the same time.

I'm not the first to experience the cathartic release of pouring your heart out onto the page, but it really was just that. The experience was also a good part frustration of the tear-your-hair-out-by-the-roots kind, and part learning experience--a very big part. Writing is an art, a craft, a profession, and it takes dedication, perseverance and training.

I think I've got the dedication and perseverance down pat--anyone who can continue to write in between working full time at a busy litigation law firm, raising a four year old, and trying to get in quality time with the hunkiest husband alive, is definitely dedicated.

Ah, but the training, the experience, that's something that doesn't come naturally. Sure, anyone can have the Idea, but for someone like me, without any background, getting the Idea to become reality was the real hard part. I did a lot of reading and research, and then just had to sit down and do it--which I did. The final product was far from perfect, but I went through it again, and again, tweaking it and refining it, adding and taking away, until I was satisfied that it was the best story that I could write.

Having been named a finalist in this competition now feels great, feels like it was all worth it, but the best part is that the people judging my work will be authors themselves, as well as editors, publishers, agents, all in the industry, and all with years of experience that far surpasses my own.

Even if I don't come back home with any awards, I'll take a lot from this experience, most importantly--FEEDBACK. Yes, the judges reading my manuscript will be sending back their own critiques, giving me ideas on how to improve what I've written, and letting me know what they liked. To me, this is going to be an award in itself, the most valuable kind.

So let the long weekend begin. I'm ready--for more than just summer.