This past February, I took the uncharacteristically brave decision to attend my first writers’ conference. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and I’ve never been scared of attending any one of them. Mainly because, I suppose, that while I was at those conferences, I was there as the resident expert; sometimes I presented, or was on a panel, and sometimes I just stood in the back heckling my colleagues (oh, the memories)—but I was never scared of being there.
This was different (cue ominous music). I was (and still am) a novice in the arena of writing (you can tell from my over-enthusiastic use of parentheses). So I was going purely to learn. Oh, and to pitch to an agent. Ya, now you see why I was so nervous.
The DFW Con is a fantastic writers’ conference. There were so many workshops by agents and editors and authors that inevitably I couldn’t get to all of them. And I’m oh, so thankful, that my pitch session was scheduled for early on the first day, otherwise I would have spent the whole weekend with my stomach in knots.
I can’t say my pitch was the slickest, most eloquent one that the agent had ever heard, but she generously gave me her card and asked me to send her stuff. I’m absolutely sure she was just being polite and asking everyone to do the same, but I was mostly just happy to come away from the session unscathed.
The most terrifying part of the conference (for those who were brave enough to enter) was the Gong Show. This had a panel of agents on a stage, each with a gong. Someone read out submitted queries to the agents, and they gonged when they would have stopped reading. It was in turns, funny, terrifying and exhilarating. Especially for those brave souls who actually got requests!
I attended about nine different workshops while I was there, and drank at least 30 cups of coffee each day. Aside from the constant bathroom breaks, it was worth every penny of the conference and airfare. The agents, editors and other writers were friendly and approachable, and I came away with new books, swag, some tee shirts, and a brand new critique partner.
Does anyone have any other writers’ conferences they can recommend? And if you’re reading this between the 16th and 18th of August, 2011, stop reading now, and go here: WriteOnCon. It’s free and there are different sessions almost every hour. Can’t get better than that.