When you're at a book conference, you inevitably spend a great deal of your time talking about publishing, marketing, everything that goes on once you close the word processor, and everything you'd prefer not to deal with. But students ... man, they want to know everything about the books themselves. They want to know where ideas come from. Where you get your inspiration. How much of the characters are based on you, and how many are based on other people. It's everything a writer really wants to talk about, to the hungriest audience there is.
Students don't care about co-op. They don't give a damn about genre wars, review space, or sales meetings. All they care about is what is between those two covers, how it got there, and for some of them, how they can do it too. You can always tell who the writers are in these groups. They're the ones who ask question after question. At first tentative, hand raised just barely above their head, perhaps wondering what their fellow classmates will think of them. But as time goes on, the hands eventually raise higher and higher, they become more confident, more open. You have to purposefully call on other students sometimes because, near the end, that hand refuses to stay down.
Oh, man. That must have been such an incredible thrill for him.
I would have thought that with the Net, such person-to-person excitement was being lost, replaced by emails and blog Comments.
I'm glad to learn otherwise.