Monday, March 29, 2010

Reflecting on The Write Stuff Conference

On Saturday I attended one of my favorite events of the year with my friend Jodi—the annual Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG)’s “Write Stuff” conference. This was my third conference, and the first time I (gulp) scheduled an appointment with an agent! (More on that later).

I’m always impressed at how smoothly this conference runs, which says a lot about the efficiency and organization of the chairpeople! They really do it right, from the Flash Fiction contests to the pre-conference workshops to bringing in impressive keynote speakers (this year’s was James Frey, author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel) to the book fair at the end of the day, to the agent and editor appointments that I already mentioned. Many attendees say that this is one of the best writers’ conferences around—I have to take their word for it, since this is the only one I’ve ever attended, but I know that I always get a ton of great information.

This year was no exception. It’s just nice to be around other writers. Granted, I’d say that 85% of the folks there are fiction writers, and many of them have had multiple books published (how do they do that?), but I think the overall atmosphere and supportive camaraderie goes a long way toward making everyone, regardless of genre, feel comfortable. I sometimes think I’m a little nutty for having this constant mental dialogue about finding story ideas, where to send them, or mentally composing the pieces I’m working on silently in my head all day, but I took some comfort in the fact that many of these folks refer to their make-believe characters as real people. This made me feel better somehow—I really was among “my people”.

As I said, this year I decided to bite the bullet and set up an agent appointment. Jodi has met with them before, but I never had anything to pitch, so there was no point in looking foolish. But this time, I pitched my long-dormant NaNo novel from 2008. Imagine my surprise when the super nice agent I met with said I should send her some chapters! Gulp! Ex-excuse me?? Send you chapters?!?! This was something I did for practice! For a hoot, if you will! And now I’m to send out some chapters!?!?

Right. Chapters.

Who am I kidding—what the hell am I doing?!?!

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