Learning New Tricks

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. At least that’s the cliche. But you know what they say about cliches. They wouldn’t be a cliche if they weren’t true.

Or so I thought.

You see, for a while now I’ve been avoiding workshops, conferences, classes and panels because when you’ve been set on being an author for as long as I have, there seems there is nothing they can teach you that you haven’t already learned many, many times before. So, when you take all the educationally out of the writer’s events of that nature, you’re only left with networking. Something I am REALLY bad at.

But, my friend asked me to be the guest speaker at a dinner her writers’ group, The Accokeek Women Writers Group, was putting on as part of their first ever Writer’s Summer Camp.

I was honored to be included, and seeing as how I had some free time, I decided to check out some of their other offerings. Why not? If nothing else, this would be my view:

photo by Patrise Henkel

photo by Patrise Henkel

And while the classes I sat in on were things I’d taken class after class, lecture after lecture, workshop after workshop on– character profiling, dialogue and tarot reading– there were still things I learned from each.

Besides that I need to check out Dungeons and Dragons for archetype breakdowns, that I need to work on what is being said in my dialogue and find ways to give information in a more concise way, and that there is a huge difference between taking a class about tarot reading from a writer who is also familiar with tarot and a tarot reader who is also a writer (my advice? Learn how tarot can help you with your stories from someone who really knows what the cards mean and their significance).

The main thing I learned–or maybe the thing I was reminded of–was to have fun. That for all the srs bzns learning and dedication to the craft whatnot that happens when writers get together, there should also be games and shenanigans.

In character profiles, we talked about types, about horoscopes and Meyer-Briggs–all the things we talk about in these classes–but we also played a round-robin improv game with our characters and their traits. In the dialogue workshop we talked about all the things that makes dialogue real, all the reasons for dialogue and the difference between being authentic and being necessary. But we also played a game where we came up with two characters a location and a desire and threw them into a hat and wrote some dialogue with the characters, location and desire we pulled out of the hat. It was a lot of fun.

In the class on tarot reading we learned about interpretation, letting your own intuition guide meaning and how the literal isn’t always what you take from the card. And I also learned that my Goddess that day was Minerva.

2015-08-07 11.19.42

Still haven’t figured out what that means exactly. But, that’s okay. You should always leave one of these experiences with things to ponder and wonder on.

But one of the most important things I learned was this: when surrounded by a lot of awesome people who put themselves out there to learn and grow as writers and women, who are welcoming and encouraging that dreaded thing called “networking” doesn’t feel like networking at all. It feels like making new friends.


2 thoughts on “Learning New Tricks

  1. Patrise

    Yay! it was so great to have you, you added a special dimension to our great event. I’m still basking in the wonderfulness of that week.
    We even had a new reporter come to Monday’s meeting!

    1. Tamela J Ritter Post author

      Man, sorry I didn’t reply to this earlier. All my comments are ending up in a huge pile of slush and gross that I had to comb through to get this (and one other actual true comment). 🙁

      Anyway, I had a really great time and hope you are all continuing to be awesome!

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