Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Writing Conferences Are Inspiring

Those who are serious about being a writer should consider attending a writers’ conference. It’s a place to learn more about the craft of writing and to network with other writers. These meetings are open to anyone who is willing to pay the fee. A few are even free. There is no ‘good writer, published writer’ qualification in most of these conferences. They are for all who are interested, no matter whether beginner or pro.

Some are one day and others last a full week. Enter keywords like Writers’ Conference into a search engine and see what you come up with. Refine the search by limiting it to your own geographical area which would keep cost down. Many community colleges, junior colleges and universities sponsor writing workshops, seminars, or conferences. State author conventions offer workshops and often being  published is not a prerequisite to becoming a member and/or attendee. 

I’ve attended a retreat/conference that my online writers critique group sponsored several times but that first one is memorable, mostly because it was filled with treasures for this writer. I’ve known many of the women in the group for years but had never met them in person. Plans for the event went on for close to a year, and we all had to commit early on as a down payment was necessary to hold the meeting site. This one required airfare, lodging and food cost. A regional park near Washington, D.C. proved the most affordable and also offered a lovely wooded area with furnished cabins on the banks of the Potomac River. Regular readers of this blog have heard about the various conferences I've attended here.

That first time, twenty-five women from around the globe traveled to the conference site. Most were from around the USA, a few from Canada, one from Shanghai, one from Belgium, and yet another from Italy. Several in the group gave presentations on various aspects of writing, and we had three outside professionals speak to us, as well. One was a freelance writer who publishes in top magazines around the world. The owner of a literary agency spoke, and then she sat back and listened as one of our members gave a pitch on a nonfiction book she’s written. The agent liked what she heard and invited the writer to send a written proposal and the first three chapters. The third professional speaker opened the door to the world of poetry. She left many of us eager to try our hand at more poems.

Over lunches and dinners, all prepared by a marvelous cook from Mississippi, who also happened to be a Microsoft specialist and one of our presenters, we networked, compared stories of publishing nightmares and successes, and encouraged one another in whatever way we could. Besides all that, we just plain had fun.

I came home so inspired and eager to write all the things I’d thought about as I heard one speaker after another. The bond we had created over the years in our online group was cemented for good after our face to face meeting.

I highly recommend that each and every one of you look for a writers’ conference of some kind. Start with a one day meeting, then move on to one that meets two or three days. Spread your wings and consider a full week somewhere. If you attend one, I think you’ll want a second helping. So start looking in your area or farther away. It’s up to you to reach for this particular star. Start a fund, save your loose change, put it on your Christmas list so you’ll be ready when conference time rolls around.

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