Last Friday, the 21st annual Pikes Peak Writers' Conference kicked off at the Marriott Hotel. It was a three-day sojourn through the most pressing questions and dilemmas writers encounter while trying to break out as an artist.
For those unfamiliar with the Pikes Peak Writers, since 1993 it has proven to be an invaluable resource for aspiring writers throughout the Pikes Peak region and, according to its website, its conference has been ranked in the Top 10 by Writer's Digest. The pearls dropped here are one hell of an insight into the business of writing.
I was fortunate enough to sit through a couple of sessions on the Friday's agenda. The first was a presentation from Chris Myers — author of Lennon's Jinx and Date with the Dead — on terms for new writers to know, terms like "elevator pitch."
As one unfamiliar with the business end of writing, I immediately pictured someone throwing a fastball into a stainless-steel elevator — wrong. It works more like this: Imagine being in an elevator with a literary agent. How succinctly can you pitch your book to him or her before the elevator reaches its destination? Like other people who get so tangled up in complexities of plot and character that they haven't wrapped the whole thing up in a neat ball, I'd never looked at it that way.
Following Myers, romance author Lisa Renée Jones took the mic to talk about some of the more enlightening topics I ran across: how to find the right agent, and how they should never count out self-published works. While most emerging writers cringe at those two hyphenated works, Jones, on the other hand, was super optimistic about this information, saying, "The reality is most agents aren't always willing to take a risk on brand-new authors with no following."
Beyond her words, the thing that struck me the most about Jones' hour-long session was how palpably one could sense her journey towards artistry, just really feeling the years of frustration pouring through her voice and facial expressions. She didn't become a best-selling author overnight, but grinded away at her business and craft for several years before anyone took notice. It's people like these that are invited to the PPWC's conference every year to show writers the rocky road to success. To my mind, this knowledge is beyond worth the price of admission.
In the meantime, PPW holds monthly meetings at Lofty's on the fourth Monday of every month; free Write Brain workshops, also monthly; and open critiques the third Wednesday of every month at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.