I’m a huge advocate of the writing conference as a crucial key to a writer’s development. For many years, I thought they were silly and over-priced. I figured I could learn anything I needed to know by reading books about the writing craft and business.
What I didn’t understand was the importance of connection. Writers tend to be solitary creatures. Their creativity happens when they’re alone. Often our friends and family members don’t understand the stress of having to kill off a character we love, or the trauma of maintaining our words per day quota, or the soul-destroying nature of the twelfth (or hundred and twelfth) rejection letter for a project we adore.
Other writers do.
When you sit in a room with other writers, hear their stories, and realize they have the same kind of feelings and experiences you do, you realize you aren’t the only one. You’re not weird! (Well, maybe you are, but it’s probably a good weird, and you realize there are a lot of weirder people and you thoroughly enjoy being in their weird company!). You feel like you belong. You listen, you learn, you laugh, and you long for it to last.
Next March I am going to a new conference for me: Creative Ink in Burnaby, BC. I see that some of my friends from other conferences (Surrey International, When Words Collide in Calgary, Word on the Lake in Salmon Arm) will be there. How great!
If you’re in BC and you’ve never been to a conference, this one is a good price ($80 for the weekend) and has some phenomenal people presenting and attending, so I already know it’s going to be great. Learn about the craft and business of the writing life. Share some weird. Enjoy some fun. Buy some books.
If you decide to go, tell them I sent you!
Creative Ink is at the Delta Marriott Burnaby, BC March 29-31, 2019.
I’ll be at the AWP conference March 27-30. Walk ‘n talk. I’ll do a reading/signing thing too. You’re right. It’s all about connection, growing Vonnegut’s concept of the karass.
I must confess to sharing some of your original notions about writing conferences. Not that I think they’d be a waste of time, but that I have insurmountable (to date) difficulty justifying the expense. Your post gives me a little more leverage in that internal debate, so thank you!
The expense varies tremendously. For example, Creative Ink is $80 for registration, $58 for the banquet and then accommodation. If you can share, that’s $65 a night, so you can do the whole conference for well under $500 Canadian. When Words Collide is $50-75 for the conference (depending when you register) and accommodations are similar. Attending Surrey is closer to $1000 for me, but the high level networking is incrementally more valuable, as well. (If you’ve got a project to sell, that’s where to pitch it, as NY agents and publishers are there).
What’s your career worth? Being part of a community is so important for your mental health, too!
The first time I had a book to pitch, I attended ONE DAY of a conference. I could justify the trip for an opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers (I did have a publisher request the ms and later sign the book, after taking a workshop on how to pitch that morning!) After that first day, I knew what conferences were really about, and now, I attend a lot of them, and I’m all in! 🙂