I just attended the Writer’s Digest Conference and as always, I returned home tired and full of inspiration. But there’s something that has stuck in my mind that is nagging at me. Saturday afternoon, I was sitting in the lobby, chatting with several aspiring writers who had a lot of questions about the industry and genre categories among other things. At one point, I overheard a conversation between two attendees adjacent to me. One of the writers turns to another and says, “Isn’t this so great? I’ve met a lot of people, exchanged cards with them.” Etc. Etc. But the other person shrugged and said, “I guess, but I think it’s lame the way these things are all about sponging off of the wannabes to make a bunch of money.”
I couldn’t help but stare at this person.
All I could think was: sure, I suppose one could look at a conference that way. But I’m frowning, even as I type that. Maybe this person had received a bunch of rejections lately–or maybe they just drank a bottle of misery for breakfast. Either way, I was flabbergasted.
I guess this person doesn’t realize the pro authors who attend donate their time and hard-won knowledge, and they are rarely paid, yet they do it happily to give back, to help others succeed. I suppose this person assumes the conference generates a tremendous amount of money based on conference fees, but doesn’t grasp the extraordinary amount of money needed to put on a convention in midtown Manhattan.
I have to admit, this comment irritated me, and the fact that I felt compelled to write this post, I suppose, shows just how much. As I look back on my years at conferences, all I feel is gratitude. Gratitude for the many generous and knowledgeable people I’ve met. Gratitude for the opportunities to connect with professionals who directed me on my path to publication, and also guided me in my learning.
Oodles and oodles of gratitude.
In fact, in the spirit of gratitude, I’m going to break down the positives about attending a writer conference.
I have to begin with: [Read more…]