When asked whether he thought writing courses stifle writers, Ernest Hemingway famously said he didn’t think they stifled enough of them. You have to wonder what he’d think of the Romance Writers of Australian national conference taking place next week in Melbourne, where 350 writers are gathering to catch up with friends and share information about the craft. Certainly not stifled.
www.theage.com.au is a good article about what’s coming up.
Already the net is abuzz with the excitement of those attending, me included. My suitcase sits open and half packed, my notes and giveaways for the workshops I’m presenting are ready. I’ll be talking on Creativity and Feeding the Muse at the Published Author Day next Thursday, then on The Art of Layering Your Romance Novel with Jennie Adams on Saturday. Other sessions range from social media and marketing to staging a convincing fight scene.
From this you might think the benefit of being there is mainly in learning from experts. While that’s a big part of what conferences are about, here are some other reasons I think they rock.
1. You catch up with colleagues you only “meet” online the rest of the year
2. You find out what everybody else has been writing
3. You load up your case with free books as well as the booty from the conference bookstore
4. Somebody else feeds and cares for you during the event (writers with families know how amazing this feels)
And most importantly:
5. You find out you’re not the only person in the world who…….(fill in the gap)
#5 is huge, because all of us at some stage have thought we were the only one getting sucky feedback from editors, going through a dry patch when ideas were non existent, unable to write because of life in general, or thinking a day job at McD’s was looking good. Knowing others are in the same boat can lift your spirits and get you back in the game faster than almost anything.
Right now there’s a huge amount of upheaval in publishing. Nobody really knows where we’re headed, making it even harder to write than usual – and it’s tough enough in the good times. Being among like-minded friends can reassure you that it IS worthwhile hanging in there, writing the book of your heart and trying to get it published. When something is hard, it’s usually the most rewarding when you make it.
Then there’s the social side of cocktail party, awards dinner, charity auctions and hanging out with friends in lobby, coffee shop or late night bar. Everybody gets something different out of this side, but we all come away feeling supported, encouraged and fired up to get back to the keyboard.
If that’s not enough to justify the time and cost, there are those other magic words – tax deductible.
Are you going to a conference soon or have been to one lately? What was the best thing about it for you?