When my dad called me downstairs Monday afternoon, his tone filled me with dread.
Oh, this does not bode well, I thought, hurrying downstairs. That’s his ‘My plans have gone askew’ voice. I’m not going to visit Mom’s writing conference on Friday after all.
Quite the opposite was true. I would be attending the local conference not just for one day, but for all four. Attending all the workshops, going to the Friday supper, and rubbing elbows with fellow writers all through the rest of the week…
Unfortunately, I would be doing it all while taking the place of my mother, who would not be able to attend. Her grandma – my great-grandma, a woman in her 90s – had passed away, and my parents would be driving across state lines to go to the memorial service.
Not the circumstances I would have picked, even though I’d wanted to go to the conference for more time.
*sigh* Rest in peace, Great-grandma.
Although I feel bad for my mom, who was disappointed to miss the conference on top of everything else, it has been a fantastic experience to be here, listening to information doled out by published authors, along with the furious scribbling of novice writers. Almost every conversation inevitably turns to “What do you like to write? What are your accomplishments so far?”
While having this conversation with the woman sitting next to me on the first morning, she mentioned that she was a contributor on a blog.
“Which one?” I asked innocently, pen at the ready to jot down the url.
“The Writer’s Alley,” she answered.
I laughed, and explained that I’d been following that blog for quite some time. And I had probably read things by her, even if none of them came immediately to mind (Angie, if you’re here checking out my blog, I’ll just say one more time that it was great to meet you in person. ^^)
The whole conference was especially interesting because I think I was one of the more ‘distinct’ attendees. Out of everyone there, I was…
· The youngest, by far. I’m only a senior in high school, starting this fall, and I don’t think there was anyone from college present, aside from a few people who teach college.
· One of the only fiction writers. A lot of the workshops were geared toward nonfiction, but still very informative and great for making me think more about ‘What can I publish now that will help me once I start trying to publish a book?’
· One of the more prolific attendees. A lot of the people there (besides the speakers, of course) considered themselves novice writers, most experienced in small news articles, devotions, letters, etc. Little things in print, if anything. A few published books here and there. So I think some of them were more impressed than I deserve when I mentioned I had four or five rough drafts of novels completed, putting the emphasis on ‘rough’. XD Obviously, though, I don’t have anything published yet, so I still feel like a novice myself.
Even though I was in all these minorities, I didn’t feel out of place most of the time, even when discussions at the lunch table were about writing with kids in the house, or writing alongside your career, etc. Even though I was the youngest, the fiction writer, and (I think…) the only person crazy enough to have participated in NaNoWriMo, there was still a common bond that tied us together for the duration of the conference.
We were all writers. We are all writers. Whether it’s fantasy novels or nonfiction books, or devotionals or poetry, or lots and lots of letters, we all had the same invisible word pasted just below our nametags. One of the first things we did, just a few minutes in, was to say it out loud.
“I am a writer.”
And it felt fantastic.
You could feel the excitement growing with each revelation by the speakers. We listened to the workshops as if query letters and organizational techniques were a matter of life and death. I’m sure some of the newer writers used more notebook paper taking notes than they ever had writing a single project. And during every break, meal, and free time, we talked about writing. Our motivation bubbled over and filled the conference hall to the brim.
During the first bathroom break, after the writing buzz had first started to kick in, I heard it. The words that perfectly expressed what we were all thinking.
“I feel saturated.”
Perfect way to say it. What else can you expect from a roomful of writers? I heard that term over and over again. Saturated. Flooded with information, and enthusiasm, and ideas, and all the motivation that so often escapes us…
Bottom line, if you have the opportunity to go to a writers’ conference, do it. You won’t regret it, you’ll make a lot of connections with other writers (some novices, some experts), and by the end of it all, you’ll be saturated with information, and ready to pick up a pen.
Keep writing, folks.
I’ll see you when I get back from camp.
Have you been to a writer’s conference? What was your experience like?
P.S. The other cool thing was that we each had the opportunity to have consultations with some of the (published!) speakers there. I got some great suggestions for revising one of my novels, and some really positive feedback on a short story that I actually blogged about way back when I wrote it. One of them (Thank you, Shelly!) even suggested a magazine that she thought I might try to submit to. Sadly, from the looks of the website, they aren't accepting submissions and haven't been since November/December of 2010. *cries in a corner* Still, she's going to email me a list she's got of places that teens can submit to, so, yay! And I think it's a good sign that - after a little polishing - I might be ready to try and get something in a magazine or something... or something. *eyes repetition of vague words.* So yeah, anyway, that's mah sidenote/update on my writing ventures. And as you may have noticed, I figured out how to make text into links! 8D So, I'm sorry if all the blue was a little overwhelming. ;)