I’m back from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCWBI) Conference in L.A and A Room of Her Own (AROHO) writing retreat at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiú, New Mexico.
Both conferences were packed with information. I loved my time in Abiqui, New Mexico, it’s a gorgeous place for writer workshops. SCBWI had approximately 1,100 people in attendance and AROHO had 130.
The best thing about attending these conferences is the people: writers, poets, illustrator’s and those who live and breathe their art.
It felt good to be in community with fellow writers, both pre-published and published. I believe we need each other and have the opportunity for personal engagement with some of our favorite writers.
The Write Life has a list of annual conferences, but this list isn’t complete. Do a search for your state to come up for more localized conferences.
There is an expense to conferences, and if the budget can’t afford the cost, most have fellowships or scholarships. If you remotely qualify, submit your work. It’s worth a try.
After the conference, I waved goodbye to new friends and three days later I feel a little lonely without them around for “writerly” support.
After digesting my notes, I thought I’d share a post about conference attendance and implore you to seek out conferences, seminars, and workshops during this or next year. (The conference folks have strict rules about blogging/recording seminars so I can’t give you specific info on classes-so sorry).
Some bits of wisdom for you:
Wisdom Bit #1: If you can’t attend a conference, find out what their Twitter handle will be and follow the hashtag for some interesting information. If you wait until after the conference the info is usually removed.
Wisdom Bit #2: Usually writers work in isolation, so a conference is your opportunity to attend at least one social function. While at the function, meet at least two people, ask questions about their writing, what’s their story? Your writing community just expanded.
At the SCWBI conference, there was a big party where most people dressed up to the theme of Glitter. The chapter I belong to, Central Coast-Calif. were dressed as the “Bling, Bling Book Queens.” I like music and I like to dance, so I was there. (We found our gowns at thrift shops).
Wisdom Bit #3: Take notes in one journal or pad. When you get home you can easily refer to your notes and type them up. I’m having a hard time finding my notes since I took three journals.
Wisdom Bit #4: Use your business cards. If your pre-published (like me) make some cards up listing your name, website, and social media. Here’s mine. On the back is my name, Twitter name, and website. I only give out a card if a person asks for one or mentions they’d like to keep in touch. I now have 25 more Twitter followers, several more FB requests, and following back those same interesting writers and agents. Your writing community is expanded and so are your potential resources.
Wisdom Bit#5: If you were invited to send in a manuscript (and this often happens in conference seminars) jot down the agents name and pay attention when she/he tells you what to put in the email subject line. If she tells you to send a month after the conference, follow up on the request in a month. Draw a large block around your agent notes and star it so you can find it when you get home.
Wisdom Bit #6: Organize your notes and make a “Must Do Now,” “To Do,” and a “Nice to Do,” list.
- Must Do: Send out my manuscript on xx date to Agent xx; Revise first five pages with the info learned in First Five Pages workshop.
- To Do: Set up one social media avenue if you don’t already have one; Read a recommended book on revising or editing; Set up a calendar reflecting your new goals and timelines.
- Nice to Do: Follow the new person you just met on Twitter or other social media. Stay in contact.
Bonus Wisdom Bit: Please don’t be that guy or gal who overtakes a conference session. They usually sit in the first row, speak without raising their hand, and try to monopolize the speaker. You will be remembered, by fellow writers and the speaker.
Thanks for reading and have a great week.