One of the absolute best reasons to be a gopher at a conference is that you have the perfect excuse to meet all the awesome authors on the panels. So, naturally, I made sure I signed up for the Writers on Writing panel, featuring four really fuzzy guys:
|Tracy Hickman, Brandon Sanderson, L.E. Modesitt, David Farland|
Still, you know it's going to be a phenomenal panel when Brandon Sanderson declares that he's going to moderate because everyone else knows more than he does. I know, right?
So here's the highlights, left to right:
Tracy Hickman said:
- Talent without discipline is a waste of air
- You have not yet written your best work
- Black Swan novels can't be engineered: they are an accident of the universe. He's more interested in the Craftsman Writer, who has consistent stories to tell, and can consistently produce work that changes and moves their audience.
- After all this time in his writing career and all the apparent success, he still has obstacles he has to overcome. "You just have to rely on faith to get you through that."
- Publishers need to realize that they’re not in the business of making books anymore: they are in the business of arbitrating quality.
Brandon Sanderson said:
- Chasing trends is a bad idea unless you're really excited about the trend. If you're just chasing it, you'll write mediocre stories.
- After failing to sell over and over again, Brandon looked at why he was writing: he wanted to get published, but had to ask himself how many books he’d write even if he never got published. He decided that he’d keep writing for the rest of his life, even if he never sold a book.
L.E. Modesitt said:
- “If it doesn’t the hell say it, it doesn’t the hell say it”
- If you're a novelist, BE a novelist: Don't try to cram novels into short stories
- The editorial side of things is a lot more restrictive than the reading public: Stick with it, and there’s got to be somebody out there who likes what you do
- Every writer with every book is in the hardest time: we are only as good as the last thing we published. Beyond that, readers want to be entertained, if they didn’t like your last book, they’ll let you know.
David Farland said:
- Write for the love of it: if you have fun, you'll write better and longer
- Story isn’t a bunch of unrelated incidents happening to a person, but you need to look at what the story is really saying: what characters do I need to express it?
- His teachers in college wanted him to write literary fiction, to "let the world know who you are." David responds: "I don’t care who you are. There are 7 billion people trying to explain how they’re unique and different."
- When he decided to write what he liked to read, it became completely different. "To do anything else was immoral." He wasn’t going to be untrue to himself by trying to write something he didn’t like reading.
- It doesn't matter how you get your audience: hot air balloons are fine.