Speaker & Session Preview: Lisa Romeo, Minding your MMs and PPs & All the Obstacles…

lisa romeoLisa Romeo’s not letting anything get into the way of helping attendees overcome writing road blocks! As part of the LIVE track, she’s presenting Minding Your MMs and PPs: All the Obstacles that Definitely Do and Decidedly Don’t Exist. Spend 45 minutes with this writer/teacher, and you just might be able to reclaim your writing life.

Hippocampus: We don’t want to give too much away about your session, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.

Lisa: This insight isn’t terribly original, but I’ve found that most writers give it only passing lip service, but don’t really take it apart and figure out what it means on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis: If you are going to write, you are going to NOT do something else. It makes perfect sense in theory, in summary. But what I try to help writers do is analyze how this plays out—or, often, doesn’t—in their regular daily writing practice. What are the time-stealers which must move into the “going to NOT do” column that are eating away your time? The answers are often a rather disturbing surprise.

Tell us who would benefit most from your session and why.  

Writers who might benefit are those who feel as if time is not on their side; those who are battling either internal or external obstacles they believe are keeping them from completing writing projects; and those who are having trouble meeting word or page count goals, sustaining productivity, or crashing through blocks. The session will also help writers who want to develop and commit to a more regular writing practice, while creating a fuller writing life. If you’ve ever said, I don’t have the time…I can’t get started…I can’t seem to finish…If only _________…. then you’ll get new ideas here. But the caveat is that you may not always like what you find out you need to do to make your writing life flourish!

What is your best advice for attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?

Study the schedule in advance. Do a bit of research on the presenters, see who appeals to you, but don’t limit it to whether or not you like their published work. Look at what they have to offer off the page too, because that’s what you’re going to be exposed to in the presentation. See if you can find something they’ve written about the topic on their blog, other writing sites, etc.

I often challenge myself to ask at least one question and/or to linger afterward and have at least one one-on-one conversation with a panelist afterward. Keeps me paying close attention, and makes me ask myself how I can apply what I’m hearing.

And don’t hesitate to (quietly, politely) leave the room if you find the topic isn’t for you after all, and seek out a different concurrent panel. Your time is valuable, and everyone understands you want to maximize it. On the other hand, an open mind is a great conference companion!

Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the inaugural HippoCamp? 

I love that it will be focused on creative nonfiction writing, because although I learn a lot from fiction writers and poets and journalists, there’s something great knowing that nearly everyone in the room does what you do!

 What’s on your personal conference agenda? Perhaps share with us a session/event you don’t want to miss.

Since I’m teaching (a teen nonfiction writing class) in N.J. most of the day on Friday and can’t arrive until dinnertime, I’ll have to miss most of that day’s offerings; but if I were there, I’d love to hear Sarah Einstein talk about the collage essay.

On Saturday, I’ve marked Matt Skillen’s presentation on writing about place, Viannah Duncan’s prose/poetry session, Jennifer McGuiggan’s discussion of flash essays, and Vicki Mayk’s on writing grief. If I were not opposite Jim Warner’s session on podcasting, then I’d sit it there because that’s an area I currently have very little confidence about, and isn’t also what I think conferences do best—letting you explore something out of the comfort zone.

 What are you most looking forward to about visiting Lancaster?

Living in neighboring N.J., I’ve grown to love the Lancaster area, and have been there several times with my husband and sons. That means I’ve done and seen all the local attractions—and some that are focused on culture are terrific—so now I like to poke around and discover out of the way places, or sometimes just grab a sandwich and sit on a bench along the main street of one of the nearby Amish communities, and watch the world go by. If you’re interested, the best way to learn something about the Amish is to genuinely patronize their businesses and have conversation.

Anything else? 

Please say all the pretzel makers in the area are donating bowls and bowls of salty perfection!

Thanks for sharing your conference advice and peek into your session, Lisa! We can’t promise that there will be bowls of pretzels … mostly because we might gobble them up first!