This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. For a writer, Conference Week is almost like Christmas. There are friends, laughter, good food, and dress-up events—not to mention all the learning and networking that take place.
I try to attend two writing events each year to improve my craft of writing. This year I’m attending the American Night Writers Association’s annual conference in Gilbert, Arizona. I’m looking forward to the critique camp, where I get to receive feedback on five pages of my work; the workshops on mystery writing (that’s something I’ve been dying to learn more about) and writing blurbs for the back of the book.
This year we have a “Protagonist Ball,” where everyone will dress up as a protagonist from a book. I’m going at Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. (I might have a Jay Gatsby thing going on. See the cover of Mergers & Acquisitions.) Plus, as a bonus, my friend Donna Hatch is hosting a pre-conference Regency Fans Tea Party at a pretty reception center. We’re dressing like we live in Jane Austen’s time and bringing a teacup and planning to be on our best manners while we catch up on each other’s lives.
Most of all, I can’t wait to see the people. There are too many to mention, but I really, honestly love and care about them. It pains me to think what my life would be like if I hadn’t found writing as my outlet for creativity, because I might not have many of these incredible men and women as influences in my life.
Last year, as my additional writing event, I attended a workshop done by David Farland (Wolverton.) Brilliant. Lots of information—and again, I was able to meet some people who, months and months later, are still men and women I count as friends. Dulice, Shelisa, Chris, Linda—we’re connected by this hobby/pursuit/obsession. We cheer for each other’s victories. And we only met for a couple of days. It’s pretty amazing.
A few years ago, I dragged my sister-in-law to L.A. to attend a screenwriting conference put on by Writers Digest. I learned things there that I still think about as I’m writing and when someone asks me for advice about writing. What an experience for me, a mom from rural America.
Later this fall, I’ll be attending a new conference, the 20BooksVegas Conference. I’m really looking forward to meeting a more diverse group, but who I’m guessing will all be connected by this same drive to write and publish. I’m really looking forward to learning from all their experiences.
I make time to do these things because they’re so valuable to me. If you’re a writer, wherever you are, try to find a group of like-minded people to write with, who will cheer you on, pick you up when you’re down, and help you reach the next level.
May you find the conference and group of writers that help you reach your best.