by Valerie Ipson
Yesterday my sister asked if I was getting excited for my planned weekend to the LDS Storymakers Conference. "I'm getting nervous" was my reply and I launched into the varied reasons why writers conferences are so different than other seemingly similar venues.
Most conferences you attend, you choose your classes, sit in anonymity in each one scribbling notes on pads of paper, and then go away having gleaned copious amounts of information.
There's a whole other side to a writers conference.
There's the networking, the connections to be made (okay, that's redundant), the "see and be seen" factor (okay, kind of redundant, again). Generally we all have a finished work or work in progress that we want to "be seen," and, of course, we want to "see" all those writers who have crossed the line into the magical world of being called authors.
This is why I am nervous.
I will see authors.
People who have published actual books.
Fortunately, name tags will be employed, but still, if I come face to face with one (of them) don't I need to be able to match the name with their published work so as not to appear totally off the literary/Amazon/DB planet? I should have been cramming the entire last week with flash cards--okay, James Dashner-The Maze Runner-MC:Thomas, Josi Kilpack-Devil's Food Cake-MC:Sadie, Heather Moore-Alma-MC:Alma, Joyce DiPastena-Illuminations of the Heart-MC:Suri...oh, wait I know her! Whew! And bonus, I have actually read her book. [Note to self: Stand near Joyce as much as she'll allow.]
In addition to authors, there will be a myriad of people there who I know only through their blog or through our online writing associations. So, see, I know their names and quite a bit about them, but have never spoken face to face. How do I approach them? "Oh, my gosh, it's you "Queen of the Clan" blogger ...um...um... thanks for that comment you left on my blog last February...um..." Of course, half the bloggers are also authors, so I need to remember their blog and published work.
Again thank goodness for name tags because (and I'm not referring to anyone real or fictional) there's often a "lost in translation" moment when you go from knowing someone just by their little bloggy photo and then meeting them in person.
So that's the "see" aspect of writer's conferences.
Now as far as being seen and your work being seen, that ups the nervousness factor considerably.
There will be editors in attendance.
Actual people who make decisions about whether writers cross the line into the magical world of being called authors.
I daresay I don't need to elaborate, except to say if you come face to face with one (of them) WHAT WILL YOU SAY? It must be something half way intelligent and if it could be half way intelligent about your own manuscript, then all the better. You've gotta have a well-rehearsed pitch--one that is short and non-rambling. [See elanajohnson.blogspot.com today for her post on this very subject.] Even if you don't get to talk to an editor (or don't force yourself upon an editor) a thousand other people will ask you about your novel just in casual conversation.
Must. Be. Prepared.
By now you are beginning to wonder--why subject ourselves to the frenzy that is LDS Storymakers?
Because it's the most fun frenzy ever!
Imagine an entire Grand Ballroom of crazy people who get it.
They get writing and writers.
And anything anyone says about writing, no matter what it is, you have a whole ballroom-sized group of people nodding like bobble-heads in agreement. And because it's sponsored by a group with "LDS" as their first name, you also have a ballroom of people who are kind and so amazingly supportive of each other [and have standards] and can become your friends and critique partners and help you navigate your road to publication.
And if that's not all enough, then there is the choosing of classes, sitting and scribbling notes on pads of paper, and coming away with copious amounts of information.
I love that part.