This weekend I attended the Dallas/Ft. Worth Writing Conference. Worth every penny!
My only complaint is that it wasn’t long enough.
What I really want instead of a weekend writer’s conference is a Summer Camp for Writers. And we writers are a neurotic group, so we wouldn’t need any activities like biking, canoeing or hiking. That would take us out into the sunlight and away from our keyboards. Can’t have that!
No, I picture my ideal writer’s camp with me isolated in a small cabin, at a desk with only an outlet for my laptop and iPod. Since I’d probably scare people if I admitted I’d be fine with an IV for nutrition and a catheter for, well, you know… I’ll go with my next best way for getting my meals. Someone would quietly knock on the door (can’t scare away the Muse!) and leave a light lunch on the doorstep before they sneak away.
I can hear it all now. If you walked through the camp, you’d be greeted with the tap, tap, tap of keyboards and an occasional forehead hitting the desk when things aren’t going well. But, then again, why would I be walking through the camp? That’d take me away from my writing. No, in my dream camp, we’d work all day and gather at the bar at night. It would be acceptable to show up in your bathrobe or pajamas. Everyone there would understand and be proud of you since we’d all know you didn’t get a shower because you were on a roll.
I’m sure we could get loads of ideas for new characters just from looking around at the lounge. And just like every writer’s conference I’ve attended, I’m sure there would be that guy. You know, the the one in a corner wearing a tweed sports jacket with suede elbow patches and carrying a sheath of papers—a stack of poems he wants to read to you. Yes, “that guy.”
Ahhh, a summer camp would be great. Even having to dodge the poet in the corner would be worth it.
Back to the DFWCon…writers are an odd bunch. So, whenever there’s a large gathering of writers anywhere, I begin to hear Phil Collin’s Strangers Like Me playing in the back of my head. The DFWCon was awesome for my psyche. Instead of eyes-glazing over when I began talking about writing, people engaged and became animated. My heart rate sped up, my eyes dilated and the pleasure center in my brain burned with bright red activity. It was like love at first sight…okay it’s hyperbole, but you get the picture.
I used to bore my family and friends with my one-sided dialogue about character development, plot, pacing and tension building. I’ve learned this is not good. Never discuss these things with a non-writer. He or she will get a pacify-the-crazy-person-smile on his or her face. They will grin and say, “Yes, but what is your book about?”
This weekend in Dallas I met and of course, (if you know me at all) bonded with my fellow scribblers. I had six best friends by the end of the weekend. They “got” me! Neuroses to neuroses, obsession to obsession, passion to passion.
So is spending the money on a writer’s conference worth it? Heck yeah! If you can afford to go to one of these things, do it. I’ve gone to two here in Texas and two in Pennsylvania. I’d highly recommend going. You will learn from the classes that are taught by incredible instructors, but you will also realize you are not alone.
So, come out of your writing cave, step blinking into the sun, rub your eyes and head to the nearest conference (where you will get inside a hotel or convention center and out of that pesky sun). I didn’t see the light of day this weekend until I drove home, but I’m used to living in a writing cave and luckily, I have a natural tan.
Here’s a good website to find one that suits you.
Has anyone had a negative experience with a writer’s conference? Anyone got an agent from attending one of these?