I’ve got a couple of writing conferences coming up in the next couple of months. At the start of April, I’m off to the Sacramento area, as an attendee at the SCBWI Spring Spirit conference. Then in May, I’m off to Pennsylvania to present at the Pennwriters conference in Pittsburgh. Obviously, things are going to be different at each–there’s a different speed to a conference where you’re on faculty to one where you are part of the audience. I love both ways of doing a conference, and here’s why:
- I love hanging out with writers. For too many years, it was just me and my pen/computer. Then I found my critique partners and suddenly I had a world I was part of–every conference I go to opens up that world to me and lets me totally immerse myself in it for a solid day or three.
- I get to talk about writing. Yes, I do more of this if I’m up at the podium, but believe me–I do plenty when I’m an attendee, chatting with people in the workshops (NOT while the speaker is talking…usually!), at meals, in lines.
- I get to travel. Okay, this isn’t quite as much fun as it used to be (but don’t quote me on that until after I see if I get the full-body pat down at the airport in May!), but I still love the feeling of going somewhere, surrounded by other people going somewhere. There’s a feeling of expectation and anticipation–a who-knows-what-might-happen tinge to the air.
- I stay in a hotel. Every now and then I do the drive-there-and-back on the same day, but I try to treat myself to at least one night in a place that makes my bed, replaces my towels, delivers food (if only in the form of the candy machine down the hall), and basically makes me feel pampered. Honestly, I’m easy–I don’t have to stay anywhere particularly expensive to get this feeling. I just have to be somewhere where my laundry and my kitchen aren’t staring me in the face.
- Conferences give me a break from work. Yes, sure, speaking is work–but such a different kind. A lot of the work we do–writing, editing, freelancing–whatever, has a bit of a delayed-feedback reaction. At a conference, whether I’m talking about critiquing, discussing someone’s manuscript, signing a book–I pretty much always get a smile in return: instant gratification. Something we all need & don’t get often enough, as far as I’m concerned.
- A conference makes me shift my mental gears. It’s all to easy to get into a groove–not always a good one–as we go along, doing the same things, following the same patterns, day after day. Conferences push me out of this–they wake me up and let me look at things from a different angle, usually a pretty happy one.
That’s me. Those are the big reasons why I love writing conferences. What about you? Why–other than to learn the craft or make a contact–do you head out to conferences?