MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Guest Post: DUBLIN WRITERS CONFERENCE by M C Raj


Dublin-Raj.jpg
MC Raj
Am happy that I made it to this year’s Dublin Writers Conference organized by Mr. Laurence O’Bryan. He is a savvy media person who tweeted to me to have a look at the Conference plans. Having been ill for more than 10 months with a pre-cancer diagnosis I could not move out anywhere and was looking out for a chance to ‘escape’.

That I am a frequent international traveler had its advantage when Lufthansa quietly put me in the business class when I had only an economy class ticket. This was on my way back. Leave aside what happened to me and come back to the conference.

The weather in Dublin was like the English one. You never know when it would rain. It can rain anytime. Oh, we are not supposed to speak of weather in the beginning. It should come at the end, na?

But then it had a bearing on what was being discussed at the Conference. Just as the English weather, so is the world of publishing, with many unpredictable “gate keepers” playing the role of truant watchmen, who decide what material should be taken for publishing. How can one explain novels trashed by traditional publishers becoming best sellers elsewhere?

Ken Atchity
I smiled all the way to India when Ken Atchity used the term ‘gate keepers’ in his presentation. He had come all the way from the US for the Conference. He is special. He has produced 30 Hollywood films and published 50 books and calls himself a ‘story merchant’. A very interesting ‘human’ being indeed! The human touch in him is highly visible.


What of Art Johnson who lives in a wheelchair and yet made it to Dublin all the way from the US? His sharing was also exhilarating, to say the least.

Laurence O'Bryan
So as if to put the ‘gate-keepers’ to shame, Laurence shared his personal experience of having been published by Harper Collins and later took up self- publishing as his mission. He, now, is full of confidence of self-publishing and on Amazon.

He is an active advocate of people publishing their own stuff and the Dublin Writers Conference seemed to have this singular purpose of helping authors to move ahead on this line. His ‘BooksGoSocial’ is a veritable portal of multiple help to established and new authors.

Writing may be a joy. But what follows writing is the most important thing in the molding of the writer into an author and that too into a selling author. Editing comes first in the line. Jessica Bell made a marvelous two sessions presentations on editing. Though am an author of 25 books, some of her tips are still very helpful for me. To know that she is a publisher, a cover designer, and a musician gladdens the heart. A multifaceted personality indeed!

Not to be outdone was the highly professional Ben Galley from London who dwelt on the different and difficult dimensions of marketing. This is a much-needed area when one witnesses the struggles of many writers. They write. They need to know how to sell their writing.

There are those, like me, who write for the pleasure of writing. However, marketing is very important if one publishes. One does not write to lock it up in a box. The word and your joy of writing have to spread and be contagious. The art of marketing is as important as the art of writing and editing. Ben Galley argued well for the need for self-publishing.

In order to make one’s writing saleable it is important to know what sells. Sheila Bugler made an impressive and lively session on getting the first draft out.

There were many others whose presentations I could not attend. Am glad to have listened to Debbie Young and Laurence O’Bryan again on the last day making our knowledge bank/tank on writing overflow.

The interludes made significant contributions too. Laurence asked me to introduce myself and make a reading from my book during dinner in the Gresham Hotel. I chose my book Madderakka.

I understand that quite a few people liked it. Some came and told me so. The next morning Laurence came to me and said how happy he was to have me in the Dublin Writers Conference. He didn’t know how happy I was to be there. Or perhaps he knew. Who knows?

On the second day, they interviewed me on my book, The Crossbow Code. That was a double damaka. More than that I understand that there was an award function during dinner on the second day. Ken gave away some awards. I could not be present.

I extended a warm welcome to Laurence to visit Bangalore and Booshakthi Kendra and he asserted that he would come. Now that we have planned for an Asia Writers Conference on similar lines, am sure to see him soon in our place. It is a boon that two other resource persons have also expressed their desire to come for the Asia Conference. Requests in India have already started flowing. I love to have all of them here. Let’s see.

Outside of the Conference, the biggest event in my life was re-connecting with Sr. Annette whose contact was also because of Laurence, in a way. I was in a training in Thailand in the year 1989 on Justice and Faith for four months. Annette was my spiritual guide. This training and Annette turned my life around from compulsive anger to a more meaningful and tangible commitment.


Going through Myer’s Brigs and the Personality and Human Relations packages I began to work on myself with the assistance of Annette. Now am happy that my life has become worthy of living. Annette and I had lunch together on the last day. With that energy filling experience of meeting her after 27 years, I left for Frankfurt to take my flight back to India.

The surprise galore did not end there. At the airport in Frankfurt, I met Dr. G Parameshwar, the Home Minister of Karnataka. He is a long-time friend of ours. We both were very happy to see each other at the airport. On an earlier occasion too I met him at Goa airport. Lufthansa did me a favor by putting me in the business class. That made it possible for me to travel with Parameshwar.

Is it a past experience that I am narrating. NOOOOO! It’s a future hope that I am talking of. I am having my latest science fiction on hand and Ken Atchity will do something about it. That is a suspense for me as well as for you. Let’s remain in unending hope.

Congratulations to Laurence O’Bryan and his beautiful and efficient team for executing this coup. All the best wishes for them in the next Conferences. They also have indicated that I should go there the next year. Let’s hope that I can make it. There’s no end to our hopes.

 

   












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