#SFWC 2020

Another year volunteering at the #SFWC, and I’m convinced that the new venue was an excellent choice. It’s so much easier to navigate for both volunteers lugging equipment about and for anyone with accessibility issues. Nice.

I was pleased, too, that the consulting and agent conversations moved from a noisy area to the quieter location in the Pacifica area. Gone is the echo chamber from last year!

But the best thing of all was being back among the various professionals and aspiring writers. My goal this year was to begin the process of finding an agent. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to date, and self-publishing was/is fun and great way to launch. But I’m at a point that I need to have other people helping me get the word out and freeing me to spend more time writing. I met several agents that seemed to be a good fit, and I’m going to put together proposals for them. The biggest challenge for me is (as always) to focus on a specific project and not be working on a dozen things at once. For now, that project will be a narrative non-fiction project, a biography. More on this later.

My thanks to all the organizers and volunteers at the #SFWC2020. You create opportunities and pathways to success. It’s an honor to work alongside you all.

Another View #SFWC – Web Pages Analysis

From Robb Lightfoot's thesis analysis, a look at the SFWC's public presence-web pages. A copyrighted image, 2019, by Robb Lightfoot.

Here’s another look at the San Francisco Writers Conference as seen through a word frequency analysis af all the publicly presented pages on their website, www.sfwriters.org. This includes all pages, contact information and media releases. It has a good deal of information from their recent event, #SFWC19. Notice how the theme of community jumps right out at you. Elsewhere, in my analysis, I spend almost 8 hours transcribing 45 minutes of a panel discussion to get a scripted narrative. I’ll be reviewing that for publication, soon. But I think there is a subtle difference here between what emerges in the “business of them being themselves” and what they say about themselves. Spoiler alert, it all seems to track. Their actions are aligned with their words. 🙂

Also, this aligns well with the earlier image of the presenters. Note: Even though the presenter information is on the web page, I excluded it from this data analysis.

What the #SFWC19 Presenters Said – A Word Frequency Analysis

Image copyright, 2019, Robb Lightfoot – contact [email protected]

Thesis analysis of #SFWC19 presenter's words as seen from their publicly available handouts. Image copyrighted, 2019, by Robb Lightfoot - robb@robblightfoot.com

I’m plugging away with my thesis analysis, and here’s a word-frequency graph drawn from the publicly-available handouts provided by the #SFWC19 presenters. These sort of visual analysis often form the starting point of successive, deep, re-readings of the materials and can reveal trends not apparent in any one document.

But I LOVE THIS CHART! Look at the most prominent themes, drawn from more than 14 breakout periods with 5-8 sessions per. Writing! Community! Content! Change! and even Active! and, of of course, Author!

Kudos the SFWC leadership for their work. This tracks with what they say about themselves, COMMUNITY is the biggest word in my analysis of their narratives, drawn from a 45 minute video explaining what the SFWC is. So, what they say, what others say, and (from my initial results of a survey), it’s what the various attendees and volunteers say.

More to come, but I thought I’d share this. It’s taken me many hours, and more money than I care to admit, to get on top of this data and the specialized software needed to do this sort of analysis. My thanks to all, and in particular to my wife, who has been very supportive of a love of writing and my author-friends that borders on the obsessive. Well, OK, that crosses into obsessive and borders on being totally insane. 🙂

Thank You!

Logo of the San Francisco Writer's Conference

Mom always used to say…. “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!” And it’s true. I asked the community of authors, poets, editors, publishers, agents, and assorted experts and volunteers to help me … and now I am awash in data. It’s a nice problem to have.

I wanted to thank, first off, the leadership of the San Francisco Writers Conference, #SFWC, for being so supportive and answering my emails when they were all swamped with work. You really embody the spirit of generosity that my research is documenting (in that formal, dry, academic sort of way).

Second, I want to thank the volunteers for leading the way with giving me survey responses to express their feelings about the SFWC. No surprise–they love it. But that’s a gross generalization. They love it in many dozens of unique ways. My challenge, in writing this thesis, is to capture all that is good and help others emulate and perpetuate this important work.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and some of the feedback I have (a very small amount, but still….) expresses frustration over thwarted ambitions, such as hoping to meet an agent that had gone missing at the last moment. Alas, the conference can’t be successful in all aspects. But I do think that there is a lot to commend, and there are so many good-hearted, talented, and caring people, that it’s hard to know where to begin.

I will be sharing my findings in a more concise way as I unpack them. But after all the fussing I did, to get people to participate, I didn’t want to just disappear into my data anlaysis. I am on deadline to produce a credible thesis, and it’s challenging. But I will do my best to do right by all those who helped me.

You know who you are, but I’ll be sharing more soon.

Special thanks are due to Laurie, Linda, Lissa, Barbara, and Michael for spending time sharing the wisdom of their experience. They are my heros and heroines.

Thank you all. I’ll be sharing what I learn as soon as I can.