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February 09, 2011


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I'm starting to feel like these conferences, and meet and greets are bs. I worked at two literary agencies. Sure, one just handled playwriting, but I really couldn't find much method to agents' madness in selections. Let's be honest, #1 on that list is "You are already well-known. You have an excellent record of making money for agents and publishers." #2 should be "You have something juicy and/or political to say."
I've been listening to mixed messages from wksp members and random editor/agent panels for the past year, and I think it has hurt rather than helped my writing. The best thing you can do is read other people's work then make a list of what's important to YOU to make good nonfiction. Find some people you trust, whose opinions align with yours. Work with them, but mostly work with yourself. Completeing an MFA program in writing is a lesson in how to be confident with your own voicee.


I'm not sure I understand your outsize reaction here, SN. The panel wasn't about agent's selections or getting published. It was about the communication between author and reader. When Stephen Elliott said "here's why someone will read to the end of your work" he wasn't talking about agents, he was just talking about readers. And not as in submission readers. But people who read books. Sorry if that wasn't clear in the above. A lot of the discussion (not captured in these notes) was about making the reader your first priority and what questions that provokes in rewrites.

Mark S.

Made me think of Rothko's recipe for a work of art. In brief:

1: Preoccupation with death / knowledge of death
2: Sensuality--"a lustful relationship to things that exist."
3: Tension--"either conflict or curbed desire."
4: Irony
5: Wit and Play
6: The Ephemeral and Chance
7: Hope--"10% to make the tragic concept more endurable."


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