Thursday, January 04, 2007

Literary events are like dating

A line or two from Lynne

Going to a literary event is like going on a date. Perhaps you like dating or maybe you don't. Whether you care for the process or not, it must be done to meet your objective. If you want a literary life, there are key issues to consider when you prepare and participate in this ritual.

First, you'll need to consider what to wear. Think job interview meets artistic flair. I like professional, yet comfortable clothing. Amy suggests always wearing one accessory that allows you to stand out, such as a whimsical scarf or colorful brooch. Be yourself and do take your look seriously. You are trying to impress other people in a good way. And for goodness sake don't wear athletic clothing.

Your next matter to consider is whether you'll go it alone or go on a "group date." As you've gathered from reading Amy and Lisa's posts this week, there is great comfort in going with others. Hannah offers great tips should you need to go it alone.

If your literary event is a "blind date" do as much research ahead of time as you can. Read the organizations website, check out the blogs of those who've attended or give a former participant or presenter a phone call. Surely second dates, or events you've previously attended, are easier, but there's no reason your blind date with a literary event needs to be painful. Like everything related to writing and publishing, you simply need to do your research.

Which brings us to your "date expectations." Have you ever been on a date and before you finish your first drink you've decided he or she is the one or he or she is a lost cause? My best advice is don't rush to judgment. Literary events always offer something to move your literary life forward. They will only be as good as your attitude and what you bring to the table. You might chat with one special writer who validates your perspective on the process of writing or maybe you'll meet a writer who's own research about agents or editors rounds out your own.

Like a good date or not-so-good date, you're the one who gets to decide if the event was right for you. If so, attend another event by the sponsoring organization; maybe even become a member. If the event didn't create that lovin feeling, choose a different event to attend in the future.

Some of the best dating advice, given by mothers everywhere, applies to going to literary events, too. Get yourself out there. If you don't take a chance, you don't have a chance. You, too, can have a literary life, if you choose to get out there and meet the people who already live one.

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