I learned a lot at the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy, last year, but perhaps the most important thing I didnâ€™t learn until it was too late was that you shouldnâ€™t let an Italian carry a conversation next to a very large, expensive vase.
Yes, the brilliant Dani Shapiro shared her wisdom, which included things like, â€śWhen writing an initial draft of a story, donâ€™t be afraid to open new doors and let new characters and events in, because they could enrich your story, and you can always edit them out later.â€ť But still, if she had said, â€śGene, youâ€™re Italian, so donâ€™t stand next to a large, expensive vase while speaking,â€ť then she would have saved me from doing something Iâ€™m still not comfortable writing about.
I also remember the great words of Hannah Tintiâ€”editor of One Storyâ€”great words like (and Iâ€™m paraphrasing), â€śWhen writing a cover letter, be sure to mention any writers conferences youâ€™ve attended, as this will help support the fact that you are serious about your craft. If you met that journalâ€™s editor before, it couldnâ€™t hurt to succinctly put that in there, too.â€ť Great words, indeed, Hannah. But even greater words would have been (and Iâ€™m not paraphrasing), â€śGene, I noticed you throw your hands around a lot when you talkâ€”probably because youâ€™re Italianâ€”and thereâ€™s a chance that, at one of the cocktail hours coming up, youâ€™ll be talking to the charming, wonderful Karen Shepard and, while doing so, your hand just might hit a large, expensive vase, knocking it down and sending it crashing to the floor, where it will shatter.â€ť ( Read more )