For fans of Blake Snyder who happen to read this, I was in Muncie, Indiana, at the Midwest Writers Workshop this past weekend when I was alerted (thank you, Google) to the 45-minute podcast of his 2008 behind-the-scenes interview about screenwriting, which resulted in a Q&A profile for Writer’s Digest Books. The podcast is available as a free download. This week is the anniversary of Blake’s death. Everyone who ever met him is feeling sad and missing his encouragement and support. There was a tear in my eye as I listened to the recording in my hotel room.
Knowing I could never live up to Blake’s standards, because he was so good at giving advice and instructing writers gently and with humor, I faced the workshop attendees in Muncie, who had just finished lunch and were in the mood for a nap. The best advice I could give them was to skip my session and go listen to the podcast. In a fine display of Midwestern graciousness, they didn’t.
On the second day of the conference, I had the privilege of being on a panel with agents Amy Boggs, Suzie Townsend, and Uwe Stender. For two hours, we answered questions from audience members, who went away with a better understanding of how agents’ personalities and perspectives influence their choice of clients. Later, the four of us entertained each other with tales of the authors we wish we’d signed.
One evening during the workshop weekend, Debra Marquart performed songs and jazz poetry for a weary but delighted group and turned all of us into fans.
There wasn’t a free moment to sit in on any of the other presenters’ sessions, which I would have enjoyed. Dinty Moore refused to tell me his secret strategy for overcoming writer’s block, but the conference program indicated he told the writers who attended his class, “The key to handling the bad days and bad sentences is to love revision.” All will be revealed when his new book, Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, arrives next month. (I need the chapter on “Pursuing Mental Rabbits.”)