Catholic Writers Conference, Thoughts, etc.

A. Attended an on-line Catholic Writers Conference this past weekend, at least, the part I could attend. It was good – I recommend it to anyone who hopes someday to publish in Catholic outlets. In addition to sessions on publishing basics and writing – good stuff! – they also discussed what it means to be called to be a Catholic writer in the broadest sense, and how we’re in need of ALL kinds of writing that is infused with a Catholic understanding of the world. Infused with the Spirit, really. It was inspiring.

The conference ran on East Coast time, so I was logging in at 5:30 in the morning Friday and Saturday, then forgot to reset the alarm, so I got up and logged in at 5:30 on Sunday – took a few minutes (I hadn’t had my coffee) before I realized it didn’t start til noon EST, 9:00 my time. This demonstrates in a small way how it is my lack of discipline and basic organizational skills that has caused my published output to be so small so far.

Key take-aways:

  1. I am appallingly ignorant of all things writing and publishing related. The meager writing chops I have acquired are largely accidental, in the same way that my usage and spelling are just what sounds or looks right to me after having read a few million words over the years. No system, no coherent ideas. Really, my entire published output is 1 essay for which I was paid – yay, me – a half-dozen industry articles, and a couple letters to the editor – these are the only things I’ve written that needed to get past an editor. Then there’s the endless ‘content’ I’ve written for work, for websites, training manuals, brochures – but these are largely or entirely unedited. I served as my own editor, which means I have a fool for a writer. Then there’s the 1,000+ pages on this blog, which with few exceptions go right off the top of my head and out into the ether. This is not a good thing. I could use more thought-smithing, and some objective feedback.
  2. The most enlightening stuff was in sessions on basic dramatic structure and high-level revisions. The highest level of editing has to do with making sure the story has enough of a dramatic structure to work. Now, even to the limited extent to which I understood such things, with few exceptions, I write without thinking explicitly about them, let alone laying them out on a piece of paper. On the plus side, as a result again of semi-enlightened instincts, there is a good bit of dramatic structure to my draft stories; on the minus side, not nearly enough. The real help was in seeing how the numerous corners I’ve written myself into over the years are the result, largely, of my instincts being good, but my knowledge of what the real problem was being poor. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. For now.
  3. If I were to write about what I know, I’d need to write about how intrepid space pioneers financed their space-pioneering equipment. Oddly, just now, I recall a story I started 20+ years ago, in which a major plot point was that ships using faster-than-light travel technology required planetary-level resources to construct and operate. Flying them put an entire planet at risk of bankruptcy. Thus, if a colony ran into trouble, it would only be helped if it happened to work out that a ship was headed that way anyway. When our intrepid heroes run into trouble, they just assume they’re doomed – no way are they important enough to rescue. When one passenger is confident they will be rescued, the plot thickened….
  4. Acedia is not only a Deadly Sin, it makes it really, really hard to be a writer.
  5. One speaker pointed out that, if you want to be a Catholic writer, it’s essential to read the classics. Wow.
  6. Lot of discussion of Catholic Sci Fi in a couple sessions. The bulk of this crowd seemed to be writers of devotional or other explicitly religious writing, so much so that the very idea of Catholic Sci Fi seemed to surprise them. So I pitched in, and, in the online chat, recommended Gene Wolfe, John C. Wright and Mike Flynn. I mentioned Eifelheim by name – probably would be the most accessible (and with readily identifiable Catholic elements) of  the works  of pure sci fi by that triumvirate. The opportunity did not present itself to make any further recommendations – too bad, because some of Wright’s more fantastical works would have definitely fit.

B. Education reading is inching along. I’ve got that  A History Of Education In Antiquity that is fun but long and sort of peripheral to the central points I’m looking into. Need to both speed up and not go down too many bunny holes. 

C. Certain people don’t seem to realize that their threat to leave the country if Candidate  X wins the election is a positive motivation to vote for Candidate X among certain other people…

D. How did I miss Gods of the Copybook Headings all these years? h/t to Sarah Hoyt, who made reference to it in passing, and piqued my curiosity…

E. Speaking of curiosity – yikes!  Not that *I* would indulge in such silli – hey, look! a shiny object!…

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

2 thoughts on “Catholic Writers Conference, Thoughts, etc.”

  1. The idea that Christian fiction is inevitably bad is an unfortunate byproduct of modernity. “Dante’s Inferno” and “Paradise Lost” are, of course, Christian fiction if those words mean anything. Going into the twentieth century we have C.S. Lewis. “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Great Divorce” are obvious pieces of Christian fiction.

    I’m talking about stuff that is outright, stated Christian fiction. “The Man Who Was Thursday”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, Lewis’s Space Trilogy and others have Christianity as major aspects of worldbuilding or philosophy, but they’re not Christian in the sense that the religion is the explicit main focus.

    “Pale Realms of Shade” can probably be added to the list as well, along with “Nativity”.

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