Monday, August 3, 2009

We few, we happy few...

PNWA wrapup... I'm trying to get back into the groove of my real life. It's so cool to dive into a crowd of people who think and talk in the same terms you do and realize that as much of a wonk as you are, there are other people out there caring just as passionately about the same obscure topics you care about. A convention of like-minds. By comparison with the rest of society, writers are an odd lot. A happy band of rivals that are simultaneously competing for the attention of the same few agents, jockeying for the ever-decreasing number of slots available on a publisher's press... yet always happy to help another writer out. From the New York Times bestsellers who walked among us to the most gobsmacked first timer (cough-like me-cough) there was never a hesitation to help. We shared our pitches, advised others on word-choice and phrasing and honed our ability to pack a lot of information in a tiny paragraph that we could shoehorn into a conversation with any agent or editor that crossed our paths or (poor souls) walked into our elevator. I cannot lie... I joined the Pacific Northwest Writers Association because it was my local writer's association and attended this conference because it's close-by. Turns out it's one of the largest writing conferences in the country and one of the best by reputation among the pros (or so the pros told me). Writers, agents and editors are turned away every year. And there I was. You already know that the keynote was delivered by Terry Brooks. There were also amazing talks given by Joe Finder and James Rollins about getting into the biz and writing thrillers and pull back the curtain on agents and publishers. Robert Dugoni and Sheldon Siegel deconstructed their genres. The often circuitous path these guys took to get to where they are today is heartening to those of us who are too far along the path to turn back, but not far enough to see the heights ahead. The closing address was given by a guy named Chris Humphreys, who is a British/Canadian writer of historical fiction and young adult books. He's a Shakespearean actor and fight choreographer and spoke passionately about authenticity in historical fiction, voice, research, what to put in, what to leave out and his fascination with reenactors. He wrapped with - I kid you not - the St Crispin's Day speech from the end of Henry V ("We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...") which garnered a standing ovation. What amazing, funny speakers, writers at the height of their powers. Writer's conferences are a bi-polar experience filled with amazing enthusiasm and a great deal of frank and daunting honesty. Lots of emotional highs and lows. Incidentally, a comment I made in one of the sessions had what seemed like the whole conference debating how I should overcome the fact that there are so many Scott Perkinses out there, one of whom is already a writer. (The general consensus was the same that I have already arrived at, which is to say using my middle name and first initial) But the funny story of discovering that not only could I not get but that there are two Facebook groups devoted to getting the Scott Perkinses of the world to coalesce into one super Scott Perkins caught people's attention and I was constantly hailed in the halls "Hey! Scott Perkins!" which was an interesting experience. Anyway, I'm still a bit high from it all and trying to focus on giving my manuscript a final polish before sending it off. I'll take a page from Chris Humphrey's and wrap this with a bit of Shakespeare from the beginning of the same play. The prologue of Henry V has always whispered through my head as I begin a project or when - God forbid - I am struck with the sort of self doubt that whispers that my subject is too big for me to encompass in my pages. "... but pardon gentles all, the flat unraised spirits that have dared on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great an object: can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France? or may we cram within this wooden 'O' the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?"
-Henry V, prologue
-- Scott Walker Perkins writes literate thrillers and novels of suspense, set in the modern era but woven from the threads of history. You can read more about his current projects here or at

1 comment:

  1. "Hey! Scott Perkins!" Yes, I was one of those people. It WAS kind of funny, wasn't it?

    It was super fun meeting you last weekend. I checked out your blog, and I'm amazed at how good you are about posting. At this point, I'm only doing it two or three times a week.

    I wish you the very best, regardless of which name you use when you're published! S. Walker Perkins sounds very writerly, in my humble opinion. ;)


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