I’m home after 3 days of hanging out with talented writers, still-not-acknowledging-they’re-writers-but-wishing-to-be, and lots of lovely volunteers, readers, and so on that fill a writers’ festival’s workshops and events.
If you have never attended a writing festival, here’s what goes on at the best of them, in my experience:
- lots of talking to others at various stages of the writing journey
- celebrations of writing successes
- envy of writing successes
- dreaming of writing successes
- strategies to develop confident approaches to one’s work
- strategies to be a stronger writer
- strategies for selling one’s work
- opportunities to gain feedback on one’s writing through ‘blue pencil’ sessions
- inspiration to take the risk of submitting one’s work
- inspiration to finish projects
- empty pockets due to book purchases
- joy at growing one’s signed book collection
A few years ago, Sylvia Taylor told me that the writing life is about reaching down and reaching up. We share what we’ve learned and pull someone just beginning up to greater skill and confidence. We sit at the feet of masters and are stretched to grow a little more. A conference is a great source for this.
Sometimes, conferences yield contracts. (Surrey http://www.siwc.ca is particularly good for this).
Usually, conferences yield contacts. New friends and introductions to publishers/agents/editors are not uncommon.
If you haven’t been to a conference, take the leap. There is something for all levels to learn. At the very least, being with ‘your tribe’ is a wonderful thing. Who else can relate to your habit of writing all night? (Charles De Lint, Diana Gabaldon, and I all write after midnight. We’re not alone!) Who else can appreciate the voices in your head that you need to record? Who else can offer tips and suggestions to move your project along? Who else appreciates the significance of a ‘send the full manuscript’ in response to a query? Who else really knows about this mystical journey to make worlds out of nothing but imagination and words? Where else do you belong?
I took a few things out of this year’s Word on the Lake. I attended a workshop by Anne De Grace on Writing Critique Groups. I have wished to be part of such a group for a long time, but hadn’t formulated the vision. This gave me concrete ideas. I kept my eyes open, and approached the first person I thought would also find value in such a group and be an asset. She agreed. So we will keep our eyes open for a third, and see where it goes.