Monday, April 1, 2013

Filling Your Plate at Writer's Conference

Author James Rubart graciously posing with me at conference

Writer’s conferences seem to be the meat and potatoes of a writer’s life. Or, if you’re vegetarian, the beans and quinoa. J

Whatever the fare on your plate, these gatherings seem to provide the nourishment a writer needs to make new contacts, renew old friendships, and be encouraged. We crave this because we can feel so alone in this occupation that, of necessity, offers little in the way of socializing. Perhaps that is why, after a few days of attending classes, sharing hopes and dreams, and pitching a few ideas before editors, we come away feeling exhausted but, hopefully, satiated.

I have been to two conferences so far and have grasped a few tidbits along the way. Besides learning how to pitch a story idea without fainting, reading maps to navigate a campus, and choosing to narrow down choice of classes when they ALL seem perfect, I have learned how important writer friendships are. We need each other. Other authors help us understand that our brains are as crazy as theirs. We need to experience the support and encouragement of others that face the same struggles.

At conferences, you will meet writers of all genres. You can learn so much from those who choose avenues of writing that you had never even thought about. They in turn, can learn about your particular passions in the written word. This alone serves to open your thinking processes to understand that God uses us all in unique ways to reach an audience.

It also serves to pull us OUT of ourselves. It’s so easy to get focused on our own concerns. How much more therapeutic for our neurotic selves to see another’s need and try to meet that with a word of encouragement, a prayer, or just a friendly hug (without the passion, please!)

You may meet a few writers, editors or agents that seem a bit full of themselves. Just smile and move to another table. There are plenty of author-friends—and editors and agents—that are as humble as you are, assuming you are not in the aforementioned description. J

The best lesson I have learned in my few years as a writer is to listen. Learn. Focus on what others are saying and soak in the info. This is not to say you can’t hand out a few bookmarks or do any self-promotion. But I am saying, if you concentrate on others and try to meet their needs, you might be amazed that your needs as an author are more than nourished.

Enjoy the meal.

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