Next weekend, I'm going to the San Diego Writer's Conference, and I'm already making my lists. I have a list of things to pack, a list of writings to take, and a list of tools to have. Oh, yes, and a list of people to look up, find, buy a drink, etc. I love these conferences, mostly because they re-charge my writing batteries, but also because good things have tended to happen to me there.
On my first trip to San Diego, I met Gordon Kirkland, who became my humor-writing mentor. I enjoy his company greatly and was sad to learn he won't be in San Diego this year, especially since he makes me laugh until I hiccup. My second trip to San Diego is when I met Karen Syed, pitched her my book and ended up with a contract. This will be my third trip - what could possibly top that? Oh, and of course, I have met TONS of friends at each conference, most of whom I've stayed in touch with, thanks to email, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.
One of the nice things about these conferences is they are working conferences. You can bring your WIP and read it aloud in a group of other writers. There is a workshop leader there who makes certain everyone is polite and focused and gives you feedback you can use. Trust me, I've been in writers' groups where one man complained about the font I used, and another didn't like it because he doesn't read my genre. *sigh*
What I find a little disappointing in the conference is that some writers don't take advantage of all of the other workshops. Because read & critique groups are offered all day (and into the night), some people show up with their manuscripts and travel from r&c to r&c without stopping in to hear Jean Jenkins talk about editing, or Jennifer Redmond discuss what makes a good query letter, or Michael Thompkins introduce them to the psychological/physical aspects of characters. Not only are they losing out on dynamic speakers, but they are missing an opportunity to take someone else's experience and apply it to their own works. I once heard Willard Scott say something interesting (yea, it scared me, too): "When you're green, you're growing, and when you think you're ripe, you're rotten." It shot through my soul like an electric current, and I've vowed to try to keep learning, no matter how accomplished I think I might be, no matter what the subject.
This year's conference will be fun, in that I'll get to see my publisher, Karen Syed, in person, instead of just e-bugging her. I'll also get to see a lot of the friends I've made throughout the years.
In addition, this year, the conference falls on Valentine's Day, so I've bought an extra banquet ticket for my hubby to join me on Saturday night. San Diego is only two hours from our house. Dale has met a handful of these folks, but I do hope he enjoys himself at the dinner.
If anyone's wondering about my lists, here they are:
1. Packing - Business casual with lots of layering options. Weatherman says it's supposed to rain, and I know the hotel corridors aren't completely enclosed.
2. Writings - I'm taking the first four chapters of my latest work in progress (another Peri story, entitled "Hit or Missus"), and the first 20 pages of a book of my newspaper columns I've put together in the form of a journal.
3. Tools - my laptop, a pad of paper, pens, pencils, and business cards.
Oh, yea, and I'm taking a Valentine to give to my hubby.
Did I miss anything?
What kind of writer's conferences have you been to? Do you like to work at a conference, or do you prefer to sit and be handed information? Let me know - I'm an enquiring mind!
"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times