Conflux 9 – the workshops

As I’ve mentioned in a few other posts, I’m off to my first Conflux convention (Conflux 9) next weekend. I’m looking forward to it, this convention I’ve signed up for some workshops to complement my tendency to generally lurk around.

It was very difficult to pick out workshops, there were often a couple on at the same time that I would have loved to go to. I chose sessions on the basis of how much they might help with my own writing (it needs all the help it can get!). My final selection included:

  • Writing to Sell with Patty Jansen (Thursday 25th). The workshop looks at long term strategies for selling your work. Given I haven’t actually made a paying sale as yet, it might be seen as a trifle presumptuous to consider long term sales strategies, but I like to think ahead. I’m also very keen to hear about the relative merits of different publishing paths. My travel plans mean I’ll be cutting it a little fine in making it to the start of the session (fellow participants forgive me if I’m late!).
  • Polishing Your Turds with Ian McHugh (Friday 26th). I need to get a lot better at editing my own work. When I send pieces out to beta-readers, I’m usually a bit embarrassed by the sheer number of observations I get back that I should have caught myself. McHugh is a very well regarded short story writer and I do most of my work in the short story domain at the moment. Besides, if this doesn’t win the prize for the “best-workshop-name-in-a-speculative-fiction-convention-in-Canberra-during-2013″, then the whole integrity of my fictitious awards system must be immediately brought into question.
  • Vivid, Vivid Characters with Karen Miller (Saturday 27th). I recently read and enjoyed Miller’s The Accidental Sorcerer, and her name (as well as her guest of honour status) was what first caught my eye re: this workshop. Characters and character development seem to be what I have most trouble with in my own writing. In my flash fiction it hasn’t been so much of a problem (not much space for character development), but as I’ve been attempting longer works, one of the most frequent comments from my readers has been “while the plot idea is interesting, the characters are not engaging enough”. I’m hoping to pick up a few tips here!
  • The Keys to the Kingdom continued: what professional writers do to stay on top of the game with Jack Dann (Saturday 27th). I couldn’t pass up a chance to hear from/work with Dann, and the theme of the workshop (paraphrased “offers a hands on, step-by-step writing strategy and chance to broaden working knowledge of speculative fiction”) sounds very engaging. This workshop follows straight on from the Karen Miller workshop above, meaning roughly 5 hours of workshops on Saturday morning. I may be a little brain fried by the end.

It was disappointing to see that several workshops had to be cancelled because of lack of numbers (including a couple of very interesting looking ones I couldn’t get to because of scheduling clashes). On a selfish level (the level where I work best), I’m glad the workshops I selected all remained on the schedule. I guess the cancellations might be a reflection of the fact that Conflux is as much a fan convention as a writing one, so not everyone attending would be interested in the workshop topics.

Of course there is a lot more to Conflux than just workshops. Excellent panels abound and the tantalising opportunity to catch up with people from the full spectrum of the field cannot be resisted. Ditmar awards will be handed out, interesting guests of honour will be probed by insightful interviewers and I suspect that good times will be had by all.

I’ll be in and out a bit through the conference, I used to live in Canberra so my time is being split between conference attendance and catching up with friends. But if you’re attending as well, make sure you come up and introduce yourself if we haven’t met already (or even if we have!). Perhaps we can have a chat over a refreshing beverage or two.

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