Conferences. I’ve been to too many. Here is a small list, in no particular order:
Festival of Faith & Writing—Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
Pilcrow Literary Festival, Chicago, Lincoln Park neighborhood
Prairie Writers Day, SCBWI-IL regional event
Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, where I worked on waitstaff, which turned out to be a very BIG DEAL, Kevin McIlvoy and Ernesto Quiñonez were my workshop facilitators
Sewanee Writer’s Conference, where I met Cheri Peters who championed me, I’ve always wished for someone to believe in me, thank you Cheri
Green Mountain Writers’ Conference, headed back again to the piney woods of Vermont, and thanks Yvonne Daley to awarding me a scholarship
Wesleyan Writers’ Conference, I attended on the Amanda Davis scholarship, Amanda was a truly gifted writer who had just come out with a YA novel and was beginning a book tour when her small plane crashed and she was killed
Highlights Foundation Writer’s Conference, at Chautauqua, NY (look it up, it’s amazing), full scholarship, where I worked under Helen Hemphill, author of Long Gone Daddy among others)
AWP or Associated Writing Programs, mostly I hung out at the Book Fair where I picked up writer’s guidelines and sample copies, so many that I could barely get home afterwards
I hope I’m not leaving any out.
Now the whole point of attending these conferences is to meet people. Like your future agent, editor, husband/wife/mistress/etc. In a nutshell: I’m horrible at this networking stuff. I loved Breadloaf because it was my first and I didn’t even know then what I know now, that I should be nervous, and also it helped to work. I served meals to faculty and participants in the dining hall. The year I was there another waitstaff person blogged about his experience at Slate. He got a lot right: the drinking, commingling, cohabitating, the readings, and then more readings. But he left out a lot, such as the words, the work, the edgy desire to better oneself. People in my group such as Gloria Estela Gonzalez-Zenteno were writing and revising on up to the day they workshopped and then continued to rewrite afterwards. Some people decide to audit, which I don’t get because what goes on in the workshop is the real conference and where the nitty gritty takes place.
I think a lot goes on after hours also, but I was never awake. Just my take. On Breadloaf—with, of course more to come later, about CONFERENCES.