Writing Monday: Conferences

It’s really easy sometimes to lose yourself in the world of social media. “Oh, I’ll only stay on Facebook for five more minutes.” “Oh, I’ll just share this Ellen selfie with my followers on Twitter and then I’ll go to sleep.” “Oh, everybody’s talking about Pinterest, let me try that for a week.” And so on. And so on. It seems as though everyone loves to share his or her opinions with the world on social media sites, myself included. One question on a Facebook post asked when does a writer become a writer? I tore my fingers away from the keyboard when I read one person’s response that an author is only an author if he or she has published a book. I do try to stay positive on Facebook, and I feared my response would be less than nice. So I wrote nothing at all. Which is sort of a shame on me because I feel that an author can be an author even if he or she is “pre-published.” What’s important is capturing words on either paper or a computer screen to come up with a story. One word at a time. One paragraph at a time. One page at a time. To this extent, every person who has ever struggled to find the word that captures an action or an emotional response can call him or herself a writer. Some writers only write for themselves, others are pursuing publication. Those who are striving to someday get a call from an agent, editor or publishing company have different paths to try to work their manuscript into shape for that call. To that extent, I myself am working toward the goal of publication. Besides the actual writing, there are several ways I am working on my craft. This includes romance writing conferences.

I have now attended two major conferences other than all day workshops and seminars. The first was the national RWA conference in 2013 that was held in Atlanta, GA. This year’s national RWA Conference is taking place in San Antonio, TX. A confirmed introvert, conferences are a little overwhelming. Many people come to writing conferences: writers, editors, agents, publishers, speakers, and more. One wonderful part of a national conference is the different topics that are discussed. An author can attend classes about craft, career, the writing life, research and more. Even my local chapter’s conference that I attended last year had wonderful information by dynamic speakers. These conferences have helped me develop friendships, volunteer behind the scenes, and have afforded me access to information about writing that has been invaluable.

So the time came recently when I had to make a decision. Do I travel to this year’s national conference in hope of learning my craft and gaining pointers about preparing my manuscript for submission or do I not? Yes, I signed up to go. Ultimately, learning more about writing, learning more about submitting to publishers, and talking to other writers answered the question for me. It does mean some sacrifices. As a write-at-home mom, I worry about the time spent away from my kids, but I’m also teaching them the importance of reaching for a dream. I have a goal in mind, and I have to trust that the information and friendships from this conference will push me closer to my goal of publication.

This conference is only one way I’m trying to develop my craft so that I will eventually get that call. There’s no substitution for simply sitting down with my nose close to the computer screen writing the words of my novel, but there are many ways that I can explore to make my writing better. Conferences are only one of the many ways to do so, but I think they definitely have a place on my path.

What about you? In your profession, do you attend conferences? What’s your favorite part about the conferences? Let me know.

 

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