After three years, I guess you can say I have a new tradition: Logistics Nazi for Mary Knipple, Organizer of the Independent Editors at the San Francisco Writers Conference.
TANGENT: “Logistics Nazi” is a term I came up with over a decade ago to describe my uptight coordination of something like six people to meet up in a group of over 2000. As they say, “The Devil is in the details,” and sometimes you need to be a bit devilish when dealing with the details. Anyway, I like the term, so I’ve kept it.
Back to the point.
My work at the San Francisco Writers Conference isn’t particularly difficult, if you’re a task oriented person with a controlling streak. Yes, I qualify. Really, all I do is make sure the people who signed up for a free editing session behave, get their eight minutes, and get out. This year I also helped with the signing up process – something I plan to rule with an iron fist next year.
The other things I do are watch and listen. Not to the editing sessions themselves, but to the people hovering around, the other volunteers, the editors when they take a break, and whoever else might be around. And so far, I always leave the conference thinking, “Thank God I don’t write fiction!”
There seems to be an angst among these people that I would find intolerable. It’s a strange combination of “will they like me” and “how dare you think I am not masterful.” I guess I have enough contradictions in my head to add this one.
Not everyone who attends the conference is a fiction writer, but they make up the bulk of the people I come across. And the type of non-fiction writers that do attend are still trying to get a book published, so they do still need some story telling ability if they want the book to sell.
My writing, which I call Explanatory, is less about story and more about clarity. If anything, I avoid anything that someone could consider a plot twist.
Please do not think I think at all badly about fiction writers. When I’m reading for me, fiction is all I read. I am indebted to fiction writers, and a bit awed by them too.
It’s just that I’m significantly better with existing stories than creating new ones. (Probably why I’ve never been a successful liar.)
Each year, I look forward to my few days of dominion and the validation that I’m doing the right type of writing. Next year, I plan to have my book with me – although, the attendees are not my audience. I’m not always sure who my audience is, but I do know that a bunch of people actually writing books is not it.