My experience at Willamette Writers Conference last weekend was a good one. I've learned to do only one or two workshops a day. That's all the new information I can absorb. I attended two good workshops by Eric Witchey, including a very thought-provoking one on Myth in Story that will linger in my thinking.
I also had three interviews with agents where I was able to pitch my novel. All of the interviews went well. All three agents were intrigued enough by what I told them of the story that they asked me to send pages (10, 50, and the whole thing, respectively). I felt very relaxed in the pitches for two reasons. I know now more than ever that finding an agent or publisher is a crap shoot and I so expected nothing except a chance to practice and I practiced like crazy with every friend I met, every stranger I talked to. I even went to the free pitch practice area and gave it to someone there. So I felt pretty comfortable.
Then on Sunday, when I got home, my friend Ed Goldberg called. He'd finished his read and edit of the manuscript and had comments for me. Some were reassuring (good characters, good dialog, very well written) and some gave me work to do. He suggested some additional scenes and character complications, advised me to beef up the ending, and do some needed police research. While it's hard to give up my idea that the book was done, his suggestions make good sense and won't take more than a couple of weeks to complete.
Interestingly, the lunch speaker, a film writer, talked about the three things needed for a successful career: practice, an open mind to criticism and suggestion, and persistence. So I'm taking those on.