I attended a writers conference this week. Truth be told, I lacked enthusiasm before I drove there. I’d attended three conferences last year and they left me drained—physically, financially, and emotionally. The thought of attending another one held as much appeal as facing an appendectomy.
But I went.
Like the act of writing itself, conferences can be solitary affairs. Often attendees feel invisible—one alone in a crush of humanity—all there seeking affirmation of their craft, hoping to stand out in the crowd. In an ever changing publishing world, more and more writers compete for fewer and fewer publishing spots. Many have turned to self-publishing, promotion, or e-books. Doing so can be fortunate for some, disaster for others. Some become discouraged and wonder why they should continue.
I didn’t know where I’d be at week’s end.
I’d prayed about this conference, asking God to show me what He wanted me to learn. Doing so left me without expectations. I would find what God intended me to experience.
In Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) we are told: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understandings, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
God went before me.
I had dinner with two different literary agents. Both were positive and helpful. Even though I wasn’t her client, one offered me good advice and encouragement, taking an active interest in what I was writing. Grateful, I thanked her.
I attended several workshops and classes, sitting under the tutelage of one of my favorite authors. Her teaching and writing techniques restored my enthusiasm, much as a gas station fuels a car driving on fumes. As though I were a fire that has burned to embers, I could feel her words fanning the flames inside me back to life.
And finally, I had lunch with a circle of friends—people who were each at different stages of their writing careers—but all who were hopeful for the future. Being with them lifted my spirit. I returned home enthused, energized, and excited to return to my computer.
And that’s why writers need conferences.
Your turn: Do you attend conferences of any kind? How do they make you feel?