Stimulated. Totally jazzed. Newly fired up with the zeal that got me into this crazy business of writing to begin with. Every writer should attend at least one conference – actually, more than one – during his or her career. Actually, I wish every writer could attend the Wyoming Writers Conference.
Why? Because …
You will meet some amazing people.
The conference that just ended yesterday (Sunday) here in Sheridan featured two agents from New York – Jessica Sinsheimer, an associate agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, and April Eberhardt, a self-styled “literary change agent” and owner of her own business. Then there was Chuck Sambuchino, a Writer's Digest Books editor. And Lee Gutkind, founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish narrative nonfiction exclusively. There was Mark Spragg from Cody, Wyo., an award-winning author and screenwriter. And there was Echo Klaproth, Wyoming's current poet laureate.
And besides these guests, there were the Wyoming Writers members themselves, some published, some not, all willing to share whatever knowledge they possess. Which brings me to the next reason for attending a conference.
You will be rubbing shoulders with other people who know what it means to be a writer.
Not even our closest friends and family always understand what we do or why we do it. At a conference, you're surrounded by allies, people who “get” why you don't have a “real job” – because a lot of them don't have “real jobs” either. They understand the ucompulsion to put words on paper, or on a computer screen. They share that drive that keeps you writing even as rejection slips pile up, and friends and family - and sometimes you yourself wonder if you're on the right track.
You will learn. A lot.
As I said, the Wyo Writers Conference featured some very talented guests who served up a lot of solid information during three days of workshops, a lot of which I plan to share here in later posts. The two agents had one-on-one sessions listening to authors pitching their books. Chuck Sambuchino had one-on-one sessions reading and critiquing query letters. There was a “paddle panel.” Authors submitted the first page of the first chapter of their works, and were critiqued on how well that first page grabbed a panel of readers.
You will have fun.
There were open mic sessions Friday and Saturday evenings. Anyone could read five-minutes worth of their books, poetry or short stories. There were breakfasts, lunches and dinners where people could just sit down and visit with other conference-goers. There were breaks between workshops where people could do more visiting. There were roundtable sessions, a bookstore, an autograph session – and a lot more.
A good conference will stimulate you, challenge you, teach you, give you new perspectives on your craft and your career. If you have never attended a writers' conference, find one. And … (hint) the next Wyoming Writer's Conference will be on the first weekend of June 2015 in Casper.
Note: The photo above shows the lineup of guest presenters at this year's Wyoming Writer's Conference.