WOW. That’s all I could say for three days. However, now that the conference is over and I’ve marinated overnight, I’m ready to post my afterthoughts on this great event. Even though I didn’t win the fiction contest, I was honored to have made it to finalist.
First of all: write what you love and love what you write. Many writers say they are writing because “they have to” or some other noble cause (I was one of them), but really what writers do is write to entertain. They write to reach out, to connect to readers. That’s right, we write for totally selfish reasons — we want people to listen to us. Some writers think they can write for money. I suppose that is true in some cases, but not true in most. If traditionally published, a good run would be considered 3,000 books over ten years. That’s not a whole helluva lot. If you are going to write, make sure you love your words and make certain those words are fabulous. Don’t look for the magic pay off or the slot machine win, because that will likely not happen.
Second: keep learning. That’s right, you can never attain the pinnacle of knowing it all. For example, I attended a workshop this weekend on how to run a critique group. Now I’ve been a member of a critique group for about a year, but I had yet to know how to critique. In fact, that’s one of the things I find myself lacking. I’m poor at critiquing other people’s work. Now I know how. (Duh!) You can learn from books, true, but you can also learn online. Get on Twitter and follow a few writers and agents around. Click on their links when they post them, and read carefully. Better yet, join the San Francisco Writers University — it’s free, it’s going to be the Facebook for writers, and there’s all kinds of useful information to be had.
Third: keep the lines of communication open. Writers are quite a chummy set of people, even though many of us are introverted to an extreme. Reach out to other writers; you can learn so much from them. Last year, I learned how to write an appropriate pitch from four ladies who gave mine a thorough going-over. Make friends with other writers — you never know what they will have to offer to help you on your journey. This weekend, I found two writers who will give me a line on an illustrator for my cover.
Fourth: if you are a writer and can only attend one conference a year because of time constraints or expense, GO to THIS one. I belong to the Romance Writers of America, and would love to attend their conference because I hear it’s fabulous, but I can’t. One, it’s in July when my day job is uber-busy. I can’t get away. Two, I can only afford one conference. And Three, I really don’t write romance. The San Francisco Writers Conference covers many genres, many aspects of the writing process. This is my third year. Every year I wish I could attend every workshop offered, but of course, I’d have to be cloned.
A caveat: I have already registered for next year’s conference. If you’re interested, you must act quickly. They limit attendance to 300, and often reach full capacity like they did this year.
I want to see you there, not on a waiting list.