AFTER HOURS

Exploring the Writer's Voice Small Edits 1

Some people go to work and at the end of the day, go to dinner or a bar, or go home to be with family or simply relax. Some retirees have a day scheduled with personal or social activities centered on grooming, fitness, and fun. Some begin a second career. Some become volunteers. Some write.

I look around the table at the Turnage Theatre and see tired eyes above bright smiles on the faces of the Steering Committee for the fourth annual Pamlico Writers Conference. It is composed of people still working a day job while giving untold hours to this project and retirees who could be lounging with friends, but who have chosen instead to do something productive for the community. Some of these members have driven an hour to attend this meeting. They will make the drive again next week to meet with the Pamlico Writers Group where they have assumed other responsibilities and where they will be rewarded with the opportunity to read their writing aloud and receive critiques from fellow writers.

Tonight, Sherri reports on our Face Book and Twitter accounts and agrees for the second year to create gift baskets for door prizes and honorable mention awards; Kay reports on our blog and presenter interviews and accepts leadership of the food sub-committee for the Friday night and Saturday afternoon receptions; Eloise gives editorial comments, reads the minutes, and agrees to design the banner and get it printed; Jim updates our financial status, agrees to research and put a packet of materials together for each of the 100 or so attendees, and accepts responsibility of registration during the Friday and Saturday events; Louis reports on collections for the high school scholarship award and notes corrections for our website which he built and maintains; and Doris will contact speakers about technical needs for sessions and will create certificates for competition winners and plan tables for book signing and selling by speakers and vendors. Sara texts from Greenville to report what she has been doing to encourage high school creative writing teachers to get their students involved in the Writing Competition associated with the Conference. She can’t attend the meeting because she is carrying the load of two teachers and is doing end-of-term grading. She also agrees to assist Kay with food for the Conference. At the next meeting there will be more responsibilities divided between members of the committee for the day of the Conference. This isn’t volunteering. This is leadership and a passion to promote writers and the art of writing.

The Pamlico Writers Conference grew from the Pamlico Writers Group. The members of the PWG are divided between those who are published, those working diligently in that direction, and those for whom publication is just a dream. The ages range from twenty-something to eighty-something. The purpose of the PWG is to be a sounding board, to allow member writers to read short works or passages from longer works and receive feedback on content and style.

The purposes of the Conference are to help new writers get from dream to publication and to get there with a well-written manuscript.

Anyone can publish their own writing today. That type of publishing was once referred to as a “vanity press” and implied the quality of the manuscript was not deserving of a traditional publishing house. Because of e-books and print-on-demand books through Amazon, most traditional publishers rarely consider manuscripts from unknown writers. Thus, many good new writers self-publish through small independent publishers (often at their own expense) or through Amazon’s Create Space. Unfortunately, many poor writers do the same because in some venues, there is no effective quality control. This has resulted in a loss of confidence in readers for ordering self-published books that may be unpalatable.

The greatest goal of the Pamlico Writers Conference is to address that issue by providing sessions that not only help writers through the maze of publishing, but also help them improve their writing skills. If you are a closet writer and want out, or a published writer wanting to grow, or somewhere in-between … go to our website and make plans to join the passion this March. www.pamlicowritersconference.org

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