I’m still sort of in conference mode. My brain is going over everything I learned, saw, and talked about throughout the weekend and one thing keeps popping up.
Aspiring authors, this post is for you. It can be intimidating to go to a conference the first time. Especially if you go alone. Most writers, as far as I’ve seen and heard, are introverts. We like to study the world around us, but keep to ourselves and fashion worlds from things we’ve observed. When you’re at a conference, it’s tempting to sit off to the side and lose yourself in your head.
I understand perfectly! I’m not a people person. I like sitting in my cubby hole and having very little to do with the outside world, but when I’m at a conference, I have the chance to meet people of the same mind-set. You have to remember, they’re writers. They understand everything you’ve gone and are going through. They’ve sat at their keyboards for hours at a time because they’re caught in the grips of a great story. They’ve also stared at their monitors with a blank expression because their story has deserted them. These are your people.
It can be tempting to bring someone along for “safety” (like other writers are sharks waiting for fresh meat). I did it my first conference as well. I brought my aunt and cousin because I wanted to know someone there. As it turns out, I didn’t enjoy the conference as much as I would have without them. They weren’t into writing. They didn’t get my thought process, or the absolute terror I felt at pitching my book to two editors. They sympathized, but they didn’t get it.
Other writers get it. They’ve been there and done that. If you go off on one of your tangents about a book you’re writing, they most likely won’t get a glazed look in their eyes. (I say most likely because if they’re writing something completely different from you, they’ll understand, yet not. It’s still okay.) They understand how sick to your stomach you feel at the thought of having to pitch your book.
Even better, they’re fonts of information. Writers come from every walk of life and they have experiences you may not. You make connections and network with people who can be valuable research commodities later. Case in point, I had an idea for a story with a scientific bent, but I’m so not scientific. Fortunately, I met a lady at Fantasy on the Bayou who was and she graciously agreed to let me email her at a later date to help me with the science for my story.
How can you beat that? So writers, if you’re scared or nervous about going to conferences because you don’t think you’ll have anyone to talk to, you’re wrong. These are your people. These are people who can help you, guide you, and they’ll become friends who dispense advice when you need it.