Saturday, March 8, 2014

FCWC 2014 Report

Teen Track 2014

This was my fifth year attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference. It's a decent sized conference located in Leesburg, Florida among live oaks and next to Lake Yale.

On my first year attending, I was sixteen and the experience changed my life. I decided I wanted to be a writer that year and discovered that writing was a lot more wonderful and more difficult than I thought.

If you're a writer reading this, then a writers conference is a fantastic experience for you. If not this conference then another one. They're all over the country. I wrote a post about the benefits of writers conferences after attending last year's FCWC. :)

At the conference I got to see some of my old friends that've started blogs including Lauren Claire and Casey Lynn Covel.

Me and Lauren Claire! You can find her blog here at Home of the Young Writer
Me and Casey Lynn Covel! You can find her blog at Meek-Geek!
This year was a particularly amazing conference for me. In 2013 after last year's conference, I really cracked down on writing after an agent showed interest in my book. I pushed myself to writing 1,500 words a day to get two books written which I'm about to do again for the second draft of Subsapien Grafting. I worked on staying consistent with my media and absorbing any knowledge about writing I could through books and blogposts and videos. I received critique from people and critiqued others. I pushed myself so hard I burned out (which I don't recommend) so I had to take a hiatus in writing at the end of last year and the beginning of this one.

I wanted to make my writing better anyway I could. No matter how much critique bothered me because most of the time my critiquers were right. No matter if I stay up an hour later to get my word count in or wrote for six hours straight to meet my goal by the deadline. No matter how many dozens of blogposts I read. No matter how much I didn't really feel like doing any writing or how tired I was.

And guess what.

It payed off.

In the Teen Track at FCWC, we have critique groups every night that author Bryan Davis hosts. My first chapter of Red Hood were critiqued and though some mistakes were found I got a lot of praise and even Mr. Davis said it was "very good."
A Monty Python-Based Skit I Did With Members of the Teen Track

The following night there was a first page critique where the first page of your book is critiqued by agents and editors. I could see the laptop that would project the to-be-critiqued material from my seat.

The paragraph structure of the first entry looked very much like my entry. Lo and behold my page got picked first! And I also got praise from the agents and editors that looked at it.

This happened throughout the conference as more people looked at my work. During pitching, I won the interest of three agents. I'm working on getting the requested materials to the last one currently. So excited and nervous!

I felt pretty good about myself. My fragile confidence meter inched upwards with every good comment. Then I got to a point where I felt like I wasn't 'very good' enough.

I entered into a contest at the conference. I'd tried for an award for four years now to no avail. The awards were to be announced at a banquet. I was in this Barbie doll dressed sitting at the table with my friends. My heart pounded as I awaited my category to be called. One of the conference directors called the category and the first place winner was ...

Not me.

My shoulders drooped and I thought, "So I guess I'm just not very good after all or someone is just better than me." I considered getting up and relieving myself from the too much iced tea I had consumed, but something told me to stay. As each award was announced, I clapped for each one consoling myself by thinking I should be grateful, but disappointment tainted my thoughts.

Near the end of the announcements Mr. Davis walked up to the stage and started talking about someone. How that person attended for years and how her excellent writing grew over time.

That kind of sounded like me.

Nah. It couldn't be me. I'm not excellent.

Then he said, "And the Teen Writer of the Year award goes to Victoria Tucker." (Yes, I write with a pen name. Tucker is my real one. I like Howell better.)

My heart skipped a beat and I thought, "Is this for real?!" I stumbled in my high heels to the stage and accepted the award and I felt awesome. Confidence meter through the roof!
Me with Mr. Davis and my Teen Writer of the Year award

The point is the hard work you put into writing does pay off. Keep working at it. Write those words. Read those blog posts. Get critiqued and critique others. It gets easier and harder at the same time, but you do get better. I'm not published yet, but I feel like I'm one step closer. I'm determined to get published too in God's timing even though that's tough for me, but I feel like I'm so close.

I don't know what kind of opposition you're dealing with in your life toward your dream, but keep striving. Whether you're a writer or pursuing another goal, don't quit. I thought about quitting so many times. Don't.
Me and my best friend Cassidy with the Teen Writer of the Year Award
Have you ever been to a writers conference before? Did you have any special experiences there?

You may also like:
A Little Late Year's Beginning Post!
An Interview with Author Bryan Davis
A Review of Masters & Slayers by Bryan Davis
Nine Ways to Meet Writer Friends: A Guest Post by Lauren Claire

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)