Sometimes life requires us to roll the dice, take a chance, or simply just have faith that things will work out, even when failure is a big possibility.
Several months ago, the Writers Forum Board members began debating over whether or not they should delve into new territory and plan an all day program for local writers … at a cost above regular annual dues. The decision to plan the Larsen-Pomada Agent event came after serious consideration of price, catering a lunch, time commitment, and how many writers would actually attend. Nervousness aside, the Board moved forward with Sharon Owen’s idea to boldly take Writers Forum to a new level and hire Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada to present “The Six Cs for Becoming a Successful Writer in the Digital Age” workshop to writers in Redding on January 14.
To the board’s and presenters’ delight, 59 writers from all over the North State packed into the Memorial Hall at the All Saint’s Episcopal Church to hear the expertise of Larsen and Pomada, literary agents from San Francisco who have sold hundreds of books to more than 100 publishers and imprints. Both are published authors and speak for writer’s organizations and conferences. Attendees spent the day listening to Elizabeth’s and Michael’s invaluable knowledge about the world of writing. The couple shared a plethora of information, alternating with each other to deliver a mixture of personal stories, facts about the industry, quotes, handouts and jokes.
Some of the many topics they presented included: Content, Character and Connection, The Invisible Book Chain: An Overview of the Publishing Process, 8 Steps to Getting an Agent, The ‘S’ Theory of Storytelling, The 6 Sisters, 9 Options for Publishing Your Book, Creating Communities to Help You, How to Build Your Platform, Taking the Guessing Out of Publishing, 17 Reasons for You to Be a Writer and Writing the Irresistible Query Letter. They provided a detailed handout for each topic and sprinkled their presentation with jewels of inspirational quotes like, “You must have a clear vision,” and “Tell a compelling story and you’ll be successful,” and “A page a day is a book in a year.”
They regularly encouraged group participation. Published authors in the room were asked to stand and show their books. Participants shared their favorite books about writing and generated a list to be posted on the Writers Forum website. Writers who wanted to join a critique group were identified and encouraged to talk during the break to plan their meeting times. Everyone brainstormed all of the things that were more important than writing and Michael took a count of how many things people had written to demonstrate the importance of making their writing a priority. Elizabeth followed up with, “What you know about yourself is far more important than what you know about writing.”
The information presented by Larsen and Pomada tied into the overall theme that writers need to have a clear vision in this “bottom up world” where the big guys no longer control everything that is read or published. Writers need to be connected and involved in the digital world as they write their stories with “timeless universal ideals” so they have a platform to build on. Michael looked into the crowd and said, “You are armed writers. Do this and it will work.”
The participants broke into small groups to pitch their stories to the agents and then individuals met to pitch one-on-one. Writers leaned across tables and shared their passion for their own stories with Michael and Elizabeth in hopes of moving a little closer to their dream of becoming published. The Writers Forum Board members also pitched and then watched as writer after writer sat down with agents from San Francisco to pitch their stories right here in Redding. With relief and great delight they thought to themselves, “We planned it and they came!”
Darbie Andrews is a mother, teacher, counselor and an aspiring writer from southern California who has been enjoying life in the north state since 2007. She dedicates her time to raising her son, helping teenagers graduate, volunteering as the Writers Forum secretary and working on her young adult novel. Darbie is on Facebook and at Writers-forum.net.