I was one of the hundred-plus members of the Writer Unboxed community lucky enough to travel to Salem, Massachusetts for the UnConference in early November. Now I’m back in my home base of Perth, Western Australia, sweltering in early summer heat and reading with interest, delight and not a little nostalgia the various posts attendees are writing about their UnCon experience.
For many, I know that experience was transformative. Participants went home feeling stronger and wiser, and for each one the week brought different insights. In the aftermath, some of the participants are launching into major revisions of their works in progress, perhaps based on Donald Maass’s challenging story questions or Lisa Cron’s insights into character. Some are experiencing bouts of intense creativity and achieving fabulous daily word counts. Many are counting down the days until UnCon 2018.
For me, the most vivid memories of that time in Salem are the visual ones. Where I live we don’t have a northern hemisphere-style autumn, so the walks beneath trees in their gorgeous golds and yellows, with leaves crisp underfoot and a chill in the air hinting at the coming winter were truly magical. I had to restrain myself from taking a zillion photos of characterful old wooden houses, picturesque water vistas and, of course, those beautiful trees. Instead, I kept those sensations mostly in my mind, where they will remain strong. The place will draw me back as powerfully as the event.
My breakthrough moment from UnCon came well after my return home, while I was still swimming my way out of terrible jet-lag. I heard the ghostly voice of Donald Maass whispering in my ear. Since this proposal has been so hard to write, ask yourself whether you are telling the right story.