Monday, May 13, 2013

Conferences are Life-Changing


Three years ago I went to my first writing conference: LDS Storymakers 2010 in Provo, Utah. I had been writing for about a year and I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that writing conferences were good for some reason. Can't remember what that specific reason was, but nonetheless I bought a ticket and made plans to go.

I was nervous about going alone, worried that I wouldn't fit in, unsure about what I was getting myself into, etc. So I convinced a friend from Vegas to go with me. When we sat down on the first day for the opening remarks, a very friendly girl across the table started talking to me (rather loudly). She and her friend wanted to know what my book was about and what genre it was. I think I said something about a girl who saw things and liked a boy who wasn't what he seemed...I was rambling and I looked like a total idiot.

It was classic! I had no idea what I was talking about. I didn't know how to pitch my book, talk about myself, I didn't even know what genre I was writing in. That friendly girl across the table not only ended up becoming my writing partner but one of my best friends. And the girl next to her, who was more mild mannered but equally friendly, is the true north part of our writing trifecta:




The value of conferences is far more important than learning a few tips on craft or the opportunity to meet agents. The decision I made three years ago to attend that conference changed the trajectory of my life. I became a writer surrounded by other writers who taught me how to grow. I am so grateful for Erin and Peggy, and the knowledge, joy and laughter they have brought into my life.

I am also grateful to so many more writing friends I've met along the way. I wish that I could post a picture of the dozens of friends I've met on this writing journey, but I only have a few from this weekend at Storymakers 2013:





Any life-changing conferences out there?

19 comments:

  1. It was so great to meet you in person, Jessie. And I love your story about meeting Erin and Peggy. Meeting my CP's happened pretty much the same way at WIFYR 2011. This past weekend was probably my favorite conference so far just because I met so many writer friends for the first time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have been to one conference, so far. It was a local one at the end of last year, and I can't wait to go again this year. I can't say I learned a ton about writing, but what I did learn was more powerful. It really gave me a renewed perspective of writers. So many different goals, dreams, and paths. I really saw that I wasn't the only one and my way wasn't the only way. But that we are a team, supporting one another no matter which path we choose to take. Yes there were agents and editors there, but the weekend wasn't about getting published or the end result chosen. It was a celebration of being a writer. That has stuck with me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I completely agree with you, Jessie. Conferences are life-changing! My writing improved a million times over after going to my first conference--and more importantly, I met a core group of awesome ladies who've kept me going through thick and thin. And now our circles of writer friendships rapidly expand every day! I'm so glad to call you my friend and that I got to see you and chat with you this weekend. <3

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jealous! Glad you learned a lot and can't wait to go to a conference and sneak up behind you guys. *Grins*

    ReplyDelete
  5. It looks like you had so much fun! And I "know" so many of those ladies too. Wish I could have gone. I've had some lifechanging writing moments...one that happened a few weeks ago. But no lifechanging conferences yet.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Looks like you had a lot of fun. You all are so lucky, we don't have writing conferences in India :(

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is so true! Moving from writing solo and navigating everything alone to networking with other writers with all different levels of connections and experience is absolutely worth the cost of a conference. I attended a regional Romance Writers of America conference, not intending to join RWA national. I met a few writer buddies at the conference who I since have not talked to, nice as they were. But members of the RWA chapter near me were so friendly and they invited me to their group. I ended up joining the national organization and the regional chapter since the group meets frequently in an easy to get to location. That consistency has helped me so much.

    I think there are plenty of free options for writers--libraries are a great resource for writing books and sometimes groups meet there. But my writing entered a new level once I started networking writers at a paid conference and paid group. It takes it from hobby to career level writers. Not to say the library group I started in wasn't helpful--it got me started with my first critique and I learned about POV and different genres. But I was ready to move on.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So great to see you again, Jessie. One of the many highlights of the conference. See you next time, if not sooner. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks like a great get-together and sounds inspirational-- so glad it was fun and inspiring for you all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like a fantastic conference. I met my CP and good friend at a SCBWI conference a few years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love your guts, Jessie! I'm glad you sat down by us that one day forever ago. :) :) :)

    Conferences have changed my life, too. Plus, there's the chilling with other writers that's even more life-changing than the classes themselves. So. Much. Fun.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I missed being there. I've learned more than I can possibly say from Storymakers :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Conferences are very much life changing! I just wish I would have listened to Erin a couple of years sooner! But this having been my second year, I felt like I learned so much, felt even more comfortable in the writing world, and felt inspired by all the amazing writers (like you!!!) that went to the conference.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Awww love it! I really think I would have gone this year if we hadn't moved to Russia. Maybe next year. Some day I need to meet all of you in real life, if only to find out the secret to your awesome hair! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Looks like so much fun! You guys are all awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've never been to a conference, but I'd like to go. I think it'd be great to meet a bunch of people who also love writing and to spend a lot of time talking about writing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love LDStorymakers! It was so great to see you. I'm excited about how far you've come in your writing career. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love that I knew who you were talking about before you said Erin and Peggy. My first conference was awesome! I'm so glad you were chilling in the lobby when we walked in and we were able to hang out all day. ;) I really can't express how amazing it was to be around so many talented and truly wonderful people.

    Hope to see you again soon!!!

    ReplyDelete