Monday, October 15, 2007

Muse Writers' Conference: my view

Yesterday was the final day of sessions for the Muse 2007 Online Writer’s Conference. Since many of you are writers outside your blogs I thought a little summary about the experience would be in order.

The conference was launched last year by Lea Schizas editor of The Muse on Writing (Double Dragon publishing) and moderator of the MuseItUp Club forum online, and Carolyn Howard-Johnson of Authors Coalition. The idea was to provide a workshop environment with established and published writers, editors and publishers in an accessible and budget friendly manner on the internet.

The original week-long workshop was so well received it was decided to expand it and hold it again this year. I was not aware of this last year and so I don’t know personally how much larger this year’s offering were but from comments posted by repeat attendees it was apparently much larger.

The workshop this year operated in two message forums: the main conference forum to which all attendees and presenters have passworded access; and a restricted live-chat area for hour-long chat sessions with a presenter. Some presenters used both venues and some used only one or the other; but one presenter created an email listserve of those pre-registered and conducted the workshop by email. Also, a few who did regular forum and live chat posted transcripts of the chat session for those not present which was very helpful.

I originally signed up for 3 workshops and 2 chats. I was confirmed for the 3 workshops but the chats were full so I was switched to another week long instead. I ended up not being in any of those. One presenter at the last minute couldn’t do the workshop. Two only did a live chat with follow-up questions but no transcript. The last one turned to be beyond my scope.

I was not out of luck as it is completely permissible to switch once the conference is underway; as long as the presenter is operating in regular forum mode. So I sat in on a self-publishing discussion, one on novel development, and another on showing versus telling in writing short.

That does not mean there weren’t issues to address in switching workshops. It was also difficult to break into the discussions at that point because a lot of chatting has been going on for the past two days. So while I got a lot from “listening in” on the discussion it wasn’t the same as if I had been there from the beginning. Still I got a lot of good information and it was good to “listen” to others talk about their writing process and writing life.

Christine Kane has an analysis of conference phases in her before BlogHer post. I am not basing my decision about doing this next year based on a slow start and I don't think anyone else should either. Like an in-person conference there were lots of unknowns and I didn't really know anyone there because I found the link through one of those link-leaping scenarios. But it sounded too interesting to pass up just because I wasn't on a first name basis with anyone else who was signing up.

I also think my experience was an exception in that I had all three/four of the originals not work out. At least I did not see or hear where another person was scurrying around with nothing happening. Next time I would jump in late Sunday night and post an introduction on the forums I am signed-up for and explain my Monday conflict so that I am “on the radar” at least. That is also my suggestion to anyone who is considering the conference for next year.

The workshop for the past two years has been completely free but contributions toward expenses have been encouraged and accepted. Whether there will be registration fees in the future has not been announced although 2008 pre-registration for the email notices has opened already.

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1 comment:

Cathy said...

That is all interesting. I would like to check into that for next year.