All posts tagged: Philadelphia Writers Conference

Of Cheesecake, Waffles and Waffling

I really don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to professional organizations and their associated conferences.  Over the years, I’ve learned the basics (ie. you need to pace yourself during those hourly coffee breaks and you should never sleep in the nude if there’s even the slightest chance of a fire drill) but I’m still trying to come to grips with academia—hence my constant dithering over whether to focus on writing or going back to school for my PhD. Despite last month’s post about how uninspiring I tend to find academic conferences, I know they comprise a necessary evil on the path to scholastic success.  Plus, they can be fun, especially if the hotel has a make-your-own waffle station or you find a pair of German grad students with whom to hit the nightclubs. Sometimes conferences have really good food too—I had three slices of cheesecake during the opening reception of the Society of Dance History Scholars Conference in London last summer—and scores of artistically inclined academics always make for great people watching. Last …

What My Doodles Might Be Telling Me

Getting back to the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and my remaining two discoveries (because I’m sure you’ve all been hanging on the edge of your seats, just dying to find out what sort of epiphany I’ve had this weekend). Number 2: I don’t doodle during the workshops and lectures at the PWC. I take notes. I scribble notes, actually, because my brain is going a million miles a minute and I’m thinking I’ve got to contact this person, I’ve got to write a non-fiction book proposal, I will land a new column, and I need to completely overhaul my website. My notebooks from all the dance research conferences I’ve attended tell a different tale. The margins are filled with doodles. Usually I draw little heads with their hair standing on end or mindless triangles that march across the entire page. At the Society of Dance History Scholars Conference I attended at Florida State this year, I spent one particularly boring panel checking my email and stopped only at the end of each paper to give the …

Queen of the Buffet

I discovered three interesting things about myself and life in general yesterday.  It was Day #1 of the Philadelphia’s Writer Conference and as such, I found myself in the very same hotel in Old City where I nearly threw up last year thanks to my anxiety over pitching my first manuscript to an agent. This year, I had nothing to pitch.  And I completely dropped the ball on registration so I missed not only the early bird discount but also the chance to send in a portion of my manuscript(s) for critique.  I was tempted to bail on the conference in its entirety and spend the weekend agonizing over promotional materials for the Fringe because I couldn’t bear the thought of going to the conference and having to admit to everyone I met last year that actually, I’ve made very little progress since then. But then I asked myself the same question I always ask myself when I’m faced with such dilemmas: what would the successful writer do?  A successful writer would go to the …

The Worst Speed Dater in History

Well that was a waste of a good outfit, two subway tokens and an eight-dollar glass of wine.  But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? My co-producer asks if we can schedule a rehearsal for 5:00 and I tell her NO: there are no showers at the studio and I’m going speed dating!  (Lame, I know, but I figure we each deserve one rehearsal cop out between now and September 8th).  I spend all afternoon at the coffee shop, editing our press release despite the best efforts of a daddy-daughter duo at the next table to drive me to complete distraction (don’t even get me started on my thoughts about Center City yuppies who bring their precious darlings to the coffee shop…) and I head home just in time to get dressed. I try one half a dozen outfits (it’s that time of the month so I feel fat in everything) and finally settle on the usual purple dress… again. But not to worry: for the spring, I’ve paired it with my beige Nine …

Thoughts from Tallahassee

Plenary sessions, I have come to believe, are designed to scare off would-be academics.  You put a bunch of professors in a room together, they bemoan everything from the rise of Youtube to the loss of tenure-track positions and by the time the PhD candidates add their two cents about the job market (or the lack thereof) you find yourself thinking, “Hmm… maybe writing is a more sensible choice than academia.” (At least that’s what I took away from this weekend’s end-of-conference round up.  Presumably the superstars of dance scholarship left feeling recharged and excited by the “challenges” of the twenty first century.) I had hoped that my trip to Tallahassee would help me to narrow my choices in terms of where, when and how to pursue my PhD but I’m just as confused as ever.  The US or the UK?  History or dance?  Remotely or on campus?  And, more importantly, now (as in before I get married and live happily ever after) or never? Speaking of confusion, I’ve been thinking about the way things …

These Kiss and Tell Tendencies

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  I’m feeling a bit like Scarlett O’Hara today and no, not because I’m flouncing around in an awesome green dress made of curtains.  Rather, because my failure to think things through (specifically, how to keep my personal life personal while chronicling each episode in a very public way) has left me in a bit of a pickle.  And while I’d rather just say, “Fiddle-dee-dee!” and carry on with my destructive kiss and tell tendencies, I can’t. I’m not sure what made me think I ever could.  Actually, I take that back.  I know exactly what made me think I could.  It was a book by travel writer and Lonely Planet goddess Jennifer Cox—a book called “Around the World in Eighty Dates.” And yes, Miss Cox did exactly what the title would suggest. I happened upon said volume last summer during a stroll through the charity shops of Putney High Street.  And because I was up to my ears in critical commentary on the aesthetics of the African …

How to Not Screw Up in Life…

Here are the things you should not do when querying a literary agent.  You should not say your manuscript is finished if it is not.  You should not lie about the length of your manuscript (for example, if it is 75,000 words but you’ve recently discovered that proper books should be at least 85,000, you should not tell an agent that your manuscript is 88,000 and give yourself three days to make up the difference).  Furthermore, if an agent expresses interest in your book and asks you to email her the completed manuscript, you should send it to the correct address. Nonetheless, being a first time author of the aspiring variety, I decided it would be best to make as many mistakes as possible.  I lied through my teeth about the length of the manuscript at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference.  I gave myself three days to come up with 13,000 words (13,000 good words, mind you and to put that into perspective, my MA dissertation was 20,000 words and took me almost six months to …

An Ode to Office Supplies

God, I love Staples.  In preparation for the Writers Conference, I went to Staples every day last week (on Saturday, it was a package of “fiesta” colored binder clips—an absolute essential in the publishing industry; Sunday: a new flash drive, except that Staples was closed by the time my old USB stick decided to commit suicide; Monday: a new flash drive, for real this time—however did Jane Austen manage without? And finally Tuesday: index cards).  Today I went to print out the first three chapters of my book (at the request of a New York agent!) but I can never spend less than $20 in Staples.  As such, I headed from the Copy and Print Center to the packaging supplies aisle, where I bought serious-looking envelopes to convey that I am a serious writer.    I wish I could live at Staples.  In fact, if not for my abject hatred of the retail industry, I would get a job at Staples.  But you have to know about computers to work at Staples, and I don’t.  …