By Leslie Colin Tribble
I'm the queen of cheap, the princess of penny pinchers, the tsarina of thrift. In other words, I don't spend money very often nor very readily. That's one of the reasons why going to a conference isn't easy for me. But I recently attend the WOW (Week of Writing) Conference and I am SO GLAD I did.
Conferences are good for every writer and here are a few reasons why.
All those Facebook writing friends you have, actually become real flesh and blood folks when you attend a conference. Meeting the other GROGGERS at WOW was so much fun! Networking in person strengthens bonds and make you feel a part of something larger. Writers hole up in their offices, cars or coffee shops and can go days without really connecting with other writers. Conferences pave the way for finding like-minded individuals with whom you can connect once you get back home.
Conferences like regional SCBWI events or Highlights or any of the other myriad events you can attend go out of their way to secure top flight faculty. This is the best way to immerse yourself in the knowledge and experience of people who are successful at what you want to do. All of the teaching sessions at WOW were excellent, but getting to listen to Candace Fleming speak for 6 hours was alone worth the cost of the conference.
3. Finding Your Tribe
I had five days at WOW to talk to people I'd never met and discover they are just like me - not published and not agented. Ok! There's hope for everyone! Sometimes I did chat with someone who is agented and/or published and found out they're normal people as well. Just because you're on the next rung of the writing ladder doesn't mean you stop learning, stop connecting, or stop needing your tribe.
4. Getting Feedback
We had round table sessions at WOW where we read our manuscripts to a small group moderated by an agent, editor or published writer. Those sessions were invaluable for me. I got great, constructive, positive feedback which will help me grow in this profession. I had one agent tell me my story itself wasn't really working, but that I'm a good writer and would get it figured out. Having an agent say that I'm a good writer was again, worth the cost of the conference and then some. That kind of validation is such a soothing balm to a writer's fragile ego.
After the sessions are over, the round tables have finished and the individual critiques are done comes the fun. Sitting out under amazing starry skies and chatting with new friends over a glass of wine is where the true magic of a conference happens. Sharing life is really the best part of any event. That's real networking.
So which conference do you really want to attend? Figure out a way to make it happen. Start saving now. Find out if there are any scholarships or grants you can apply for. Do something extra to earn the money but GET THERE.