I always think I'm going to do a post about the Muse conference once it's over, and I never get around to it. I was tentatively diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a number of years ago--I say tentatively, because by the time I'd gotten to see a doctor and we'd had the second blood test done, the titer levels for the marker virus had gone down, and she wasn't prepared to make a firm diagnosis based on that. It would be handy to have the label to point at, but subsequent years have shown me that she wouldn't have been wrong to make the diagnosis.
As a result, intense activity can leave me flattened for a while. The Muse conference is a pretty intense experience. The conference runs twenty-four hours a day for seven days, with instructors and students coming together from different parts of the world. Students and instructors come and go as life and available time allow. The message board the conference is held on is always available. The first couple of years, I tried taking some workshops because there were three of us involved in teaching the suspense workshop, and we really didn't need three of us for that. I have a three inch binder filled with information gleaned from the first conference. The second year, I really overreached, and took so many workshops that it took me nearly a month to recover from the stress of trying to do too much. I believe I took one workshop last year, and none this year. Last year and this year, there were only two of us teaching the suspense workshop, so that's where my energy had to go.
JD Webb, my workshop partner, and I give a lot of feedback in our workshop. We both try to reply to all the participants' assignments, but since I don't touch horror or the supernatural, JD is the one who handles those. We encourage everyone to look at everyone else's feedback as well as their own, since we've only got a week to help them see what makes suspense and how to incorporate it in their own work. It can be draining, but it's worth it to see those little virtual light bulbs coming on when they get it and start working it into their assignments.
We'll be doing the workshop again next year, of course. We'll also be doing a workshop for a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. The pace should be a little less hectic, since we'll be spreading it out over a two week period instead of trying to cram it all into one week. That workshop is scheduled for mid-December 2010, so we'll have time to recover from the Muse conference beforehand. More on that at a future date, though.
If you're interested in the Muse Online Writers Conference, hop on over to the conference website and take a look at the workshops that were offered this year. Take a look at the testimonials. Sometimes people will register for the conference, and then back out at the last moment, pointing to the fact that the conference is free while reciting that old standby, "You get what you pay for." And that's true. You get the efforts of a whole lot of industry professionals, who volunteer their time for a week to help those coming along behind them. All it costs you is a little time and effort of your own. At the end of the week, when you've got that binder full of notes, you won't think that's a bad trade-off.