Today (actually yesterday, but I wrote this last evening) I spent with fellow writers. They were readers, too, but a writers’ conference doesn’t really attract readers (the name sort of discourages it, not a criticism). No matter, it was worth the effort of the drive and giving up a Saturday because of the speakers, meeting new writers, and being with friends.
The first speaker, whom I will not reference, was superior in her public speaking skills and knew how to inspire. I was moved, and I say that without irony. I took notes on everything and felt her energy and conviction. I knew like never before that if I call myself a writer and have gone for over a month without even finishing a chapter, something is wrong and something needs to be fixed. Otherwise, I will be nothing but frustrated with my hypocrisy, and worse, frustrated by my stopped words and imagination.
The second speaker told her story of becoming a fairly successful writer (far more than I can envision now), a story evidencing that it takes a while for that to happen and that imposter syndrome is real. She had a lot of humility and belied the “you have to market like crazy” to gain readers, which is really what I think we want more than the money (although money is good).
I scheduled at least one podcast guest, set up a TV appearance, arranged an internship for a student, learned about bookstores near Atlanta, talked with a thoughtful young man who works at a bookstore and schedules speakers (he really knew how to talk to other adults, very refreshing), spoke with my publisher, got some sense of where my ninth novel is going, and ate Chik-Fil-A (despite my evangelical leanings, I rarely eat the Christian chicken). I sold one book, and it was a Bible study, which I always like to do.
A fruitful day, and many thanks to the organizer. No one realizes how hard these events are until they run one, and this one had some two hard-to-get speakers, more of a coup and attraction.
And I will write. Really write.
I recommend these events, not for attending on a monthly basis, but with some regularity. Just as I recommend writers groups, with some caveats. Mostly, I recommend a strong, supportive collection of writer friends, people who care about you and good writing and have no tint of competition or jealousy (well, a tint of envy is okay, but nothing catty or destructive).
The inspirational speaker said to "bake the bread." Interestingly, I have used that metaphor for writing myself, sort of. I have spent a lot of time mixing and kneading and letting the bread rise. Baking it is finishing and pushing it out the door, or better, letting people read it!