Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Best Thing About Conference

So I've had a couple of days to reflect about conference.

First, it is exhausting, emotionally, mentally and physically. There is certainly a lot of excitement at conference. For me, it was tough because I'm not particularly outgoing. Oddly enough, you could put me on a dais and I could speak without a problem. But plunk me in the middle of 2000 strangers and ask me to network and I freeze up. I was better in the smaller areas where there were small seating areas. It was far easier to sit down and chat with someone than mingle. For the most part, people are friendly but it is cliquey. I wish I had had more of a network before I went. I didn't know a whole lot of people going in. But I did meet a few. Most of the published authors I met were very friendly and supportive. I didn't approach any agents although I did get into an odd conversation about chocolate with Mary Sue Seymour. My pinnacle of bravery was introducing myself to an editor and having a brief conversation with him. He was quite nice but I was so panicked I don't remember much. Those of you who pitched to editors and agents have my eternal admiration. I don't think I could do it.

I was trying to get the most out of the workshops so I focused pretty hard. Mentally draining, I tell you. And by the end of the day, I was wiped out. I don't think I made it to a session after 4:30. Physically, it was tough trying to get where I was going and figuring out where it was. I hate elevators so I was going up and down stairs a lot. Wish I'd worn better shoes.

But conference is exhilirating. Even though I was overwhelmed, I felt the enthusiasm of the writers. Although the goal in our careers is to get published, that isn't actually the vibe I got at conference. It was more a celebration of our love of writing. So many of us will not get our books in print and when we are at home behind our keyboards, those dark thoughts have a chance to hold and thrive in our minds. We tend to care for them like tender flowers, nurturing them with our own pessimism and self-doubt. But conference clears so much of that away because writing is what it is. As writers, we love words and it is easy to forget that. Sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees. Words are the trees, individual and strong, gathered together to create a magical place.

For me conference was a way of getting back in touch with the reason I write. Yeah, yeah, I want to get published. But if I don't love to write, it ain't going to happen. Readers can feel the love you pour into a book and without the love, it will never get published.

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