Carol McGrath, Historical Novel Society, HNS Conference, Jenny Barden, joseph conrad, Oxford, Richard Lee
So I’m home.
I’ve had three wonderful days at the lovely and impeccably managed HNS Conference. As I said, it was my first writing conference, so I have no term of comparison – but Richard Lee, Carol McGrath and Jenny Barden created something so very stimulating, well-thought and friendly… I loved every minute of it. I met all sorts of interesting people, attended great talks and lectures, learned a good deal… and I pitched my novel. Twice.
The feedback has been most interesting…
- My title is really good
- My plotline could be more compelling – but it might be a matter of the synopsis
- My plotline is interesting and promising
(Yes, I know. Still, I was really told both. Of course I greatly prefer this second opinion – but I will carefully investigate the first. And rewrite the synopsis.)
- There is too much descriptive detail
(Ouch… this really hurt. Oh, my carefully chosen, lovingly crafted detail… have I fallen prey to that common ailment, the I Must Show My Research disease? It would seem so. I repeat: ouch.)
- My English is too densely Elizabethan
(I should have had misgivings about this one – but…)
- My English is too difficult
And this last one, I’ll say, rather floored me… I expected they’d pick at my English. I feared they’d find it less than adequate, off-mark, or any of the sins a non-native speaker might commit. But… too difficult? In a way, it is what my literary hero, Joseph Conrad, got often told at the beginning of his career, so it is sort of obliquely encouraging. On the other hand, it truly surprised me. What I found greatly flattering is that neither agent could tell from my writing that I’m no native speaker…
So, to recap. Did I say I wasn’t going to Oxford to snatch a deal, but to learn? And I’d say I have learned a good deal. Constructive feedback I can work on in my next draft. That alone would have been the price – and there was much more. I’ll most definitely be there in two years, when the Conference moves back this side of the Pond again.