Hi. My name is Dana and I’m an addict. No worries, nothing as nefarious as drugs or booze, but something just as addictive… Writing conferences! 😉
I just returned from the Washington Romance Writers 2013 Retreat, and just WOW! What a fun, supportive group! For me this year’s retreat was extra special because it was my birthday. My fantabulous mermaid sisters went over the top making me feel special. First, I arrived to find that my roommate, Kerri Carpenter, had decorated our room and brought me a birthday balloon and wine. Then later, my other mermaid sisters surprised me with an impromptu surprise party complete with chocolate cake and champagne! What more could a girl ask for? I know, right?
Writing is such a solitary endeavor, just you and your computer, and in my case yoga pants, diet coke and a fifteen-pound cat who thinks taking a nap on my keyboard is the perfect way to get my attention. When you’re in the zone it’s easy to get caught up in a world that feels as real as this one and forget there’s an actual outside, or real people who want to be fed. I thought I was the only freak who did things like this until I attended my first writing conference a few years ago and discovered there are other, mostly sane, people who find holding conversations with fictional characters normal. Thank God, I was no longer alone!
Since that first conference I have been addicted. Writers are some of the kindest, most considerate, supportive people you’ll ever meet. They understand how important a kind word of encouragement can be for a new writer, or how someone who has been writing for years may be going through a rough patch with a current work in progress. Writers, by and large, are happy to offer support and advice to all those around them. To sympathize over that rejection letter or celebrate your latest release, to share what promotional tools have worked best for them or lament over painful rewrites and edits.
I love going to conferences because they are a great way to meet people who understand the challenges of balancing writing, family, and that stupid day job many of us depend on to pay the bills. They offer a wide range of workshops on craft, promotion and trends in the industry during the day, followed by an opportunity to cut loose with friends, old and new, at socials, mixers and parties in the evenings.
Conferences allow you to network, promote your latest release and can be a great way to get in front of agents and editors. It’s refreshing to discover that the editor of a major New York publishing house may have a wicked sense of humor, that the agent of your dreams is really approachable and more than willing to answer your questions, or that the multi-published author you adore is a real person who has the same motivational struggles you do.
Whether it’s discovering you’re not the only one who spent her youth making up entire plot lines and acting them out with Barbie and GI Joe (sorry, I thought Ken was a wimp) or getting a request for your current WIP, conferences are fun and rewarding. Every time I come home exhausted, but I feel refreshed and revitalized, ready to put my butt in the chair and inspired to put words on the page.
How about you? What do you love about writing conferences?