I have a love/hate relationship with the month of March. As an educator, it is an interminable month with no breaks and students ramped up with cabin fever. As a sports fan, it’s a dream come true. The NCAA Tournament is highly entertaining and fraught with excitement. But, thankfully for the non-sports fans, that is not to be the subject of this post.
Let’s talk writing conferences. I’ve been to several reputable conferences, mainly thinking I would learn something of great importance to apply to my craft. Truthfully that isn’t what they’re all about. Let me further qualify that most of the conferences are mystery-genre related since that is what I read and write for the most part. And I have learned a few tricks along the way, but they’re more about networking and selling books.
I’m not a star-struck kind of person but I’ve enjoyed meeting many well-known authors. I resent the amount of money that celebrities and sports figures make in light of the struggles most of us go through to make ends meet. Who is to say acting or bouncing a ball is any more important than educating young people, running a bank or fixing a faucet? Don’t let me digress about the state of our society.
Back to writing conferences….What I’ve learned most is that there is no “right” way to write. What works for one may not work for another and so on. The most important thing is just to write, get the words on paper, have them critiqued. That isn’t to say one can’t learn by reading books on the craft, listening to lectures on the craft, etc. It’s important to be a consumer but it’s more important to be a practitioner.
Writing conferences I’ve attended and enjoyed: CrimeBake, the Tony Hillerman Conference, Malice Domestic, ThrillerFest, Murder in the Grove. Authors I’ve met who were gracious and down-to-earth: Tony Hillerman, J.A. Jance, Craig Johnson, Robert Crais, Michael McGarrity, Lee Harris, Vicki Delany, Roberta Isleib, Lee Lofland, D.P. Lyle, just to name a few. By no means is this a comprehensive list of conferences and authors. I will continue to attend conferences as a means of networking and learning. Plus someday in the near future I plan to have a book of my own to hawk.
If you dream of writing, then do it. It does no good to anyone to keep the words in your head. Turn them loose, create your own March Madness!