Dear Writer, this post is for anyone who’s ever wanted to attend a Writers’ Conference but lacked the finances, time – or the nerve.
This past weekend I attended the 27th Southern California Writers’Conference, and how I wish you could see a picture of the pre-me (I was very small and malnourished) and the post-me (well actually, you can. Here’s a group shot:)
|It's Serious Business During a Rogue Read & Critique...|
Within several hours though, I was surrounded by hundreds of writers, many of whom had brought books that filled the mobile bookstore in the conference foyer.
Like Russell Crowe in that opening scene of Gladiator, I ambled the long table, my splayed fingers traced the front of the soft paperbacks and felt the sharp corners of the hard covers.
I looked around… these books were written by someone attending this conference. Wow…
Time to network!
|Oz Monroe rests while Paul de Lancey talks :)|
I arranged a small platoon of trusty business cards in my shirt pocket, and within minutes the first card had been swapped for another writers.
The fun had begun - and it didn’t end - for me - until 4 a.m. Monday morning. (Sleep is so over-rated at SCWC…)The Read and Critique sessions are one of the main reasons why I attend SCWC... and the "Rogues" (so called because they begin at 9 p.m. and continue sometimes until 6:04 a.m.) are among the best ways I know to get real, honest live feedback from people who know what they're talking about.
All told, I participated in:
|My Stash :)|
· Nine workshops
· Attended a five-agent Q&A panel
· Spoke with four agents, (none of whom had extra heads, flame-filled nostrils or gargoyle features)
· Earned two rounds of applause at “read and critique” sessions
· Won one award (2013 Southern California Writers’ Conference “Outstanding Memoir” Award.)
|SCWC Director, Wes Albers, Me & SCWC Exec. Director, Michael Steven Gregory|
Sure, I didn’t walk away with an agent or a publisher offering a bag of swag, but let me tell you… when I heard my name called out among the many at the annual awards ceremony – it was such a validation to know my hard work was recognized – by my peers.
|Read & Critique Sessions - where an encouraging word is only a seat away!|
The same people who, after I begrudgingly read the final chapter of the memoir (I felt it wasn’t “right” but knew I needed the honest feedback) went quiet… before they gave me a round of applause.
|Letting our hair down - for those that had any :)|
So, Dear Writer, I don’t know where you are in your journey, but I’m right there beside you - and I've got your back if you need it.
Don’t lose the chance to meet some amazing people, build new working relationships and find yourself in a room with someone like Stacey O’Brien, who was rejected so many times she stopped counting - but who also spent two years educating herself by reading nothing but how-to books about writing books.
What’s stopping *you* from attending a Writers’ Conference? (SCWC has two – San Diego in February and Newport Beach in September. Why not plan a year out? Make attending a conference a family vacation – that’s what I do, and it works well for us.)
Seriously, if Caitlin, David, Andrew and Stacey (and the dozens of other authors I met over the weekend) can work hard, perservere, and never give up on their dreams to be a published and respected author – well then, neither will I.And, more importantly:
Neither. Should. You.