We’ve all stumbled across The List. The List of what every writer needs to do to succeed. Generally, at the top of the list is “attend a writing conference.”
Pffttt. Yeah. Writing conferences’ cost hundreds of dollars, and that’s a lot of money to dish out for just a few days.Yes, it is a lot of money, but a penny saved here and there is a penny earned. I’ve gone so far as to sell possessions to earn money for one.
Okay, money aside. Unless you’re fortunate, writing conferences are also hundreds of miles away. Are they really worth it, Rebecca?
For me, yes it is, and this summer will be my fifth OYAN conference, and I’m going to give you a couple of reasons why I’m excited.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
So. Much. Knowledge.
Back in 2016 (my first conference) I thought I knew what made a story a story, Sure I didn’t know everything, but I had the gist of it all, right? I was wrong. So wrong.
(I’m pretty sure I had carpel tunnel syndrome at the end from all the notes I took.)
When I went home, I was eager to put what I learned into my writing and it’s been the same ever since. I’m looking forward to what I learn this year, because I’m always looking to hone my craft. Writing is like life – you’re never not learning and growing.
Doors Open at Writing Conferences
You never know when a door will open at a writing conference. I pitched my novel idea to Steve Laube at the OYAN conference last year (I almost fainted from sheer terror) and while he liked the idea, I basically needed to shred my novel and start all over.
But we talked about it.
We talked about what I could change.
How I could make it better.
He never promised anything and nothing may come of that conversation — something that I understand fully well. But his encouragement was everything – and still is.
Being a writer can often be a lonely trade. It’s just you in your Hobbit Hole with your laptop pounding away at the keys at all hours of the night or day. No one really understands you (except your characters and they aren’t even real).
Lo and behold, the writing conference, with quirky fun people just like you who dress up in costumes in the summer heat, have light saber battles, and late night talks.
I have no idea what we talked about, I only know we were tired and giddy.
And having writing friends who also understand you, can also uplift you when you need it most.
There is no explanation for this. Just go with it.
I GET TO SEE NADINE AGAIN!
Somehow, I only get a picture with her at the Winter Workshops. **epic fail** This year though I must get a picture with her in my Ravenclaw costume. *Ravenclaw’s unite*
And John Otte. John Otte is amazing too, his sense of humor is hilarious and his cosplay style spot on.
It is maybe slightly terrifying to speak in the presence of a published author. It may feel like this:
Okay, Maybe that’s extreme. But, they’re published. They’ve done it and you may feel like you’re choking on your own aspirations. But if you talk with them, you’ll learn they had struggles, trials, and bumps in the road.
John Otte had an interesting story he told in 2016 that I don’t remember the details to, but his journey to publication wasn’t a walk in the park.
These authors don’t care about your age – they encourage you and uplift you to chase your dreams and pursue them.
Mr. and Mrs. S
Definitely one of the highlights of the OYAN workshop is seeing Mr. and Mrs. S. The amount of work and love they pour into the workshop and us is overwhelming and encouraging. **gives them apple butter and throws glitter and confetti.
Mrs. S’s morning sessions are the highlight of the day, and Mr. S’s haunted golf cart rides the gem of the night. There is no documented proof these rides exist, but they do.
For me, OYAN is also a time to slow down. Writing conferences are all rush, rush sometimes and it does fly by. But for me it’s also a chance to stop and rest. It’s when I see Jesus even more in the simple journey of Frodo. When the small random acts of kindness make this dark world seem more bearable.
It’s when I can I take a breath and say, “yes, we can change the course of the future.”
So, is a writing conference worth the money, packing, planning, and panicking? Yes, it is. And that is why I’m so excited to be back at home in Olathe in just nine days. And hopefully I will tell you all I learned soon.