Today I was honored to attend the San Diego Christian Writers Guild 2016 Fall Conference. My day began with the beeping of an alarm far too early on a Saturday morning. An hour later I left the house dressed professionally and feeling good. Nervous, but good.
Munching on a power bar, I drove down the road mentally rehearsing my elevator pitch and reviewing the questions I most wanted answered today. Specifically, I was hoping to get advice on better focusing my efforts in building an author platform and I was hoping to learn more about the balance between historical fact and fiction when writing historical fiction. I have already read and heard so many different opinions on these two subjects, but I felt I needed more information to help me in making informed decisions for my own career.
The morning began with consultation sign ups followed by opening remarks. Then came General Session #1 led by Bodie Thoene who shared a very touching story, drawing a connection from her childhood through her career as an author.
For the first Workshop session, I chose to sit in on Laura Rosthchild‘s talk, “How to Find and Work with an Agent.” While some of what she shared was a repeat of what I already knew, there were several pieces of information which were new and the insights she shared into how her boutique agency works, and what to look for in an agent were particularly helpful. After the workshop I walked Mrs. Rosthchild to lunch and had the opportunity to ask her about my platform.
During lunch I sat at a table with another agent, Blythe Daniel, and enjoyed listening to the interesting conversations happening between the various authors and Ms. Daniels. She was very pleasant and eager to speak with those at her table.
After lunch I sat in on Mrs. Thoene’s talk entitled, “Making History Come to Life: Researching and Writing Historical Fiction.” She moved our group away from the set up rows of chairs, over to a circle of couches for a more informal feel. Most of the session involved an exercise in sensory description. At the end she held a Q&A session. The question I asked was in regard to historical figures mentioned in her book and how she handled it if their ancestors were offended by something she wrote. Her response was succinct: “I don’t give a rip.”
Following the second workshop was another General Session led by Lynn Vincent entitled, “The Enemies Within: Overcoming Fear, Perfectionism, and Procrastination to Reach Your Writing Goals.” I found this session particularly helpful. She asked the audience for examples of their writing related fears and it was encouraging to see so many of my own fears shared by the others in the room. Her tips for overcoming these fears were helpful as well. I especially enjoyed her pointing out the Creation Story as an example of the creative process.
At the end of the day, I found the answers I needed to the questions I most wanted answered, but they did not come in the way that I had expected. While the workshops were wonderful and informative in their own right, it was the conversations before, between, and after the official sessions which wound up being of the most benefit to me, personally and professionally.
So while I recommend writer’s conferences as a source of informative workshops, I encourage you to see them as more than that.
They are an opportunity to connect with others of like minds and varying experiences. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you at lunch or walking beside you between workshops. You never know what they may have to say that can be of help to you.
What about you?
Have you attended any writers’ conferences or met anyone who touched your life or helped your career in an unexpected way?
I’d love to hear your story! Please tell me about it in the comments below.