When I arrived at my first writer’s conference, I fully expected to show my writing to an editor or agent and leave with what Orson Wells, in The Muppet Movie, refers to as the “standard rich and famous contract.” Those expectations began to fade as I realized how much I needed to learn about the craft. But that was okay, because at the same time I was learning another lesson, one that is even more important than “avoid the passive voice” and “keep your point of view consistent.” I was learning how rewarding it could be to network with others at the conference.
Writing can be a lonely business. We sit at our computer, listening to the voices in our head, striving to craft a story that will keep a reader’s attention. Our spouses try to be supportive, our children learn to tolerate our funny schedules, and our friends ask if we’re going to quit our day jobs when we become successful. But no one truly understands us like another writer, or editor, or agent. When I adjusted my expectations, that first writer’s conference turned into one big family reunion. The friendships I made with fellow writers, even some agents and editors, have lasted for years, and they have blessed me as a writer and as a person.
The best advice I can give the person attending their first writer’s conference? Learn as much of the craft as you can. But don’t neglect to take the opportunity to make new friends. In the words of TV’s Monk, “You’ll thank me later.”
Dr. Richard Mabry, author of medical drama/suspense, Prescription for Trouble Series (Code Blue, Medical Error, Diagnosis Death)