So I said I'd talk more about this and then I got distracted. It has been a week since the workshop and I thought it was worth sharing the big take-away from the weekend.
The speakers, most of them published authors, had some differing advice on many of the issues that came up repeatedly. Some described their writing as something they were driven to do; others as something they more or less fell into as adults. When one speaker was asked what to do when you're characters begin to misbehave, he seemed perplexed. His advice was to remember that as the writer, you are in charge. Another speaker gave a whole talk that focused on the concept of allowing the protagonist to take control of the story. There was also a mixed perspective on whether the main character needs to change in order to have a successful story.
What seemed to be the only point these writers agreed on was that there are no hard and fast rules for writing a great story. Each speaker would give their way of doing it, followed quickly with a "but that's me" disclaimer. It was reassuring to me. I didn't feel like any of them were experts, exactly, and I worried a bit for people in the audience scribbling down their words as if they were definitive.
Each speaker represented another facet of the writing prism and I think that was actually much more helpful than if they'd all had a unified message.