Five Highlights of a Writers’ Conference

Willamette Writers Conference 2012 Program Cover

I am back from my self-imposed one-week blog hiatus. And I am back from the 2012 Willamette Writers Conference. It was an amazing weekend; here are some highlights:

1) I successfully pitched my manuscript. This is the reason why a writer with a completed project needs to go to a writers’ conference. It’s the difference between being across a table from an agent or editor and getting lost among the thousands in the slush pile. Which would you pick if you had the choice?

I did my research and picked five agents and one editor who, based on their catalog description, website, and other clients , seemed like a good fit for my manuscript. I crafted a pitch, practiced it, internalized it, and walked in prepared. The result? Five positive responses and only one negative. And I found out later that the one negative came from an agent who was no longer looking for memoir. Changes happen between the time you register for and attend a conference. You just have to take it as a learning experience and keep going.

2) I networked with a lot of talented writers. This is the reason any writer should go to a conference; completed project or not. Writing is a lonely job, and we all need the camaraderie of colleagues. I made a lot of great connections and may have stumbled into the makings of new writers’ group. More to come (I hope).

3) I spent the hottest weekend of the summer in air conditioning. From the hotel I was staying in to the rental car to the hotel hosting the conference and back again: except for the walks across parking lots, I was in A.C. while the whole Willamette Valley sweated through 100° high last Saturday.

4) I talked about Anna . . . a lot. Since the book is about her it was a natural segue, and talking about her helped me miss her a little less.

5) I got a good boost going into the next phase of my writing career. Lots of great information and advice from the excellent workshops and a great way to organize them thanks to Christina Katz’s The Writer’s Workout (I now own a signed copy), which includes a “Twenty-five Actions in Twenty-four Hours” worksheet. I filled it out on Monday—choosing a large variety of straightforward  tasks based on my workshop notes—and checked off the first three Tuesday. My goal is to get them all done by the end of the month and then create a new list for September building upon what I’ve accomplished.

Connections, contacts, and a career-in-progress. All steps forward.

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