'Good for the soul'

Lured by the beauty of Orange County beaches and the chance to write in quiet, the Southern California Writers' Conference Los Angeles will stage its annual event in Newport Beach Sept. 24 to Sept. 26.

"One reason we moved out of Los Angeles is that there are just so many distractions," conference Executive Michael Gregory said about what he called the "LA bubble," citing issues in the eight years prior with traffic and overly large venues in which participants got lost. "Orange County has this sense of distance from those distractions, so writers can concentrate on the things that really matter, which is their work."

The three-day conference will take place at the Hyatt Regency, overlooking the Back Bay, a perfect place for both beginning and expert writers to come together and get a fresh take on whatever issues they are having with their manuscripts, Gregory said.

"The conference is good for writers that are just starting out, but also accomplished writers thinking about switching genres," Gregory said. "Writers may need someone to tell them if the material is or isn't working and the conference is a good place to do that and save themselves from wasting unnecessary time."

One topic which will be discussed — and that almost all writers can relate — is how to make a living wage from their work.

"Writers who get into writing to get rich are a bit naïve," Gregory said. "But, writing and getting compensated for it is highly important."

The idea of being discovered by an agent and immediately picked up by a publishing house is a rare Cinderella story, he explained.

More likely a writer will make connections at conferences, such as this one, that will later endorse or help push forward the writer's work into the literary world, he said.

The conference has not yet sold out, but caps registration at 200 participants to keep the workshops, which are led by industry professionals, intimate.

This way, all the writers are able to get real feedback on their work, Gregory said.

Some of the workshops run all night long as writers work with their peers and workshop leaders. The latest one of these workshops, called Rouge Workshops, have run is 6:05 a.m., Gregory said.

"They have no time limits," he said. "They will run as long as the stamina of the participants."

At the conclusion of the conference, awards in different categories are given to the writers whose work has been recognized by a judging panel as having great potential.

Gregory describes successful writing as "material that transcends more than words on a page and becomes the validation of a successful being," inspiring the reader.

But, even if you don't believe that you're writing lives up to those standards, Gregory still encourages people to write their memories, a children's book, or whatever other project they've always wanted to do.

"Even if it's bad writing, it's still good for the soul," Gregory said. "And, maybe it won't suck as much as you think."

If You Go

What: The Southern California Writers' Conference Los Angeles (Newport Beach)

When: Sept. 24 to 26

Where: Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach

Information: http://www.writersconference.com/la

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