I can't stress enough the value of attending writing conferences. Seriously, if you're a writer and haven't done more than show your work to family and friends, a gathering of writers for writers is an important step in learning more about and harnessing your craft.
Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE), and imagine my surprise when I received an email saying I was in their panel schedule. I didn't think I was ready for the task. Thankfully I shared panels with several fantastic authors, including Paul Genesse, who lead by example and showed me the ropes. It was a new step in offering insights and help to others on various topics of writing (like Description in Writing and Naming Your Characters), and I had a blast doing it. I won't be so nervous next time.
Brandon Sanderson join the team was an honor (with Ann Sowards, Michael Young and Marianne Carter, I was absolutely the smallest fry up there). For the record, I'd join a panel with these guys again in a heartbeat (and what's more epic than a Brandon signing with the likes of Jackson Porter, Jared Peterson, and Matt Hayes? Remember these names, you guys. They're going to make waves in the writing world someday).
Conferences can be an investment of time and money, but it's worth it. My favorite thing of all is meeting new writers and running into old friends (like Elana Johnson and Shallee McArthur). Also My co-writer Michael Jensen came to party (we may or may not have hidden in the gaming room to collaborate ideas on a new story ... Yes we did!).
What cemented this LTUE as my most pivotal conference experience yet is the unexpected twist at the end. You see, there was a little mix up that resulted in me getting a last minute Saturday night banquet ticket. I joined someone I knew in a very uncrowded table that was later made crowded by Brandon Sanderson, his wife, assistant, and his wife. Imagine my surprise when I saw Orson Scott Card five feet behind me. Love him or not, I hold him responsible for inspiring me to start this writing journey. How few authors get the chance to meet the author who inspired them and then thank them personally for doing so? I'd imagine rare, so that moment was priceless for me.
If you're struggling with doubt, keep writing. If you feel life would be easier to quit, keep writing. It may take a year. It may take fifteen. It might take thirty. No matter how long it takes, never give up. Go to conferences. Pick up tips you may have missed. They exist to assist you, mold you, and polish you into a better writer. Until next time!
What's your favorite writer's conference moment to date? Which author do you credit as inspiring you to start your writing journey?
I'm David, and this is my next conference (Go Badgers!).