San Francisco Writers Conference – 2017 Edition

It’s been a week since I’ve returned from San Francisco, partly to visit one of the offspring, and partly because the middle of February is time for the San Francisco Writers Conference, held at the incredibly luxurious Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. I’ve now completed my ninth (!) year (and signed up and paid for the tenth next year), and I have to say it again – this conference never grows old or tired. I learn something new every year!

This year, since I had no completed manuscripts to pitch, I skipped the speed dating with agents. By next year, I hope to have at least two manuscripts finished from the every burgeoning files on my laptop. Can one suck up the storage with Word files? You betcha! I’ve had this particular computer for five years, and it’s bursting at the digital seams. Anyway, with no impending nervousness building, I decided to concentrate on the conference.

I like to absorb all the information I can; after all, this is a once-a-year event. I’m either too busy or too broke the rest of the year to attend anything else.

This year, I decided to hang out with the poetry contingent, lead by Dr. Andy Jones. I have pages and pages of poetry, but never considered publishing them until last year’s SFWC, when I won the contest in that division. This caused me to look at my poetry with new eyes.

My poetry is the most hidden of my writing, because I view my poetry as truly a piece of my heart – not for general consumption. I’ve only shared them with a few people; the occasional contest, my husband. That’s it.

My writing developed because I’m not much of a public speaker. Writing (and reading) made me brave, a person who I wasn’t in real life. Ask anyone who I knew in school. I was *shy* i.e. quiet. A bookworm. A nerd. (What a change from now: boisterous AND loud.) I’d never thought of my words as being spoken before this conference.

The poets are all about performance. Words are good, pretty words even better, but beautiful words accompanied by touching exposition is like a sumptuous meal.

With a little prodding, I decided to sign up for open mic poetry reading, which was to be held right after the gala cocktail party (which is always a smashing get together). How hard could it be, right? To read a poem? In front of real poets? Really…I’m the queen of karaoke, even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I chose a poem from the good old days (college) and a flash fiction piece from my online classes with Meg Pokrass.

Dr. Andy starts the proceedings.

Thankfully, I was third in line so the wait was brief. In my apprehension, I had consumed one too many cocktails (2 is my limit). I’d gained bravado, but with the jet lag and lack of a full meal, along with the heat of stage lights, I completed the task at hand but not much more. I went right upstairs to my room before I could pass out from exhaustion-anxiety-a slight buzz and really make a fool of myself. I have no idea if my performance was good, bad, or ugly, but if I can find a local open mic, I might try it again.

The rest of the conference was of course a blur of information. I finally figured out what is wrong with my web sites; whether or not I can fix my problems is another matter, but at least I have help if I need it. Linda Lee is so knowledgeable about WordPress, it’s scary. While waiting for my plane ride home, I changed my jewelry site so that it’s current, and am trying to get it into shape in the next few weeks.

I love San Francisco, I love this conference, because it comes at the right time – deep in the bowels of winter, when my enthusiasm is most apt to flag. Now I am stuffed full of ideas and information, enough to kick start me forward. And of course, the venue is wonderful, the weather cooperated for the days I wasn’t attending (thank goodness, that area has had a lot of rain!), and I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

This is what a good conference will do for you.

 

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