How best celebrate
Gathered writer tribe genius,
Emerge inspired, changed?
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, short form or long, a writer’s conference is an opportunity for so many personal wins: pitch a book and secure representation; meet a favorite author; befriend other writers; visit an unfamiliar city and savor focus on nothing but your passionate craft for days.
The very first writer’s conference that I attended changed everything about writer world for me. First, I recognized that there is such a thing as writer world, a gathering of others who also experience, imagine, and think ideas into words, into stories, into pages to share with others. For the first time in my life, I was with others who see the world differently, who also love to write and do so even when not forced by school or work. I wasn’t the object of curiousity, that strange loud woman with preposterous ideas, easy laughter, word play, and too much mirth.
It’s fun. It’s energizing. It is incredible to talk and laugh with others who also scribble, imagine, and express.
I’d found my tribe.
The tribe is smart, fun and funny. The tribe uses big words without apology — and what’s more, uses them correctly to communicate not bluff, to connect not distract. The tribe is kind, generous, and plays at an exceptionally high level — but is happy to help you understand.
Most conferences offer priceless opportunities to meet with industry professionals who represent writers, publish writers, and otherwise support writers in sharing their stories with the world. There are seminars to educate and inform, workshops to try out new techniques and approaches, and generous insights from others similarly making their way through a confounding, frustrating, rewarding craft.
Before I decide to invest the time, money, and effort into a conference, I determine what I want to accomplish by going. Is it to pitch my work? Is it to learn and practice something to advance? Or is it to connect with the professionals and other writers in my tribe? Is my most urgent need to understand the market, my platform, and my contribution?
There can be more than one goal — and many times there are also surprising gifts and unanticipated jolts that forever transform my work. Each day, I review progress against my goals, doing my utmost to accomplish them as early in the conference as I can, repeating what works, and absorbing the happy, inevitable surprises of meeting new friends, discovering new work, and getting to enthuse about my story and theirs as well as empathize with one another about characters that talk to us and urge corrections when we’ve really made a mess.
PS The annual Writer’s Digest conference takes place this week in New York City. Writers and writing is the sole focus; nonfiction and fiction, all genres, all written expression is covered. The networking, information, and insight from this world-class conference are exceptional — this one is well worth attending. (This blurb comes from my own heartfelt, hard-won experience — no compensation required….)