Monday, May 28, 2012

Conference Aftermath

So for those of you who don't know, I spent last weekend at DFW Writer Conference. I had a blast, made several new friends, and got to do some actual learning again. If you're considering going to a conference, I'd recommend checking this one out.

Me and Kelsey, one of my new DFWCon BFFs

I love conferences because it's one of the only places where I can totally nerd-out about writing in person. Twitter, Facebook, email, Skype, they're all great but there's just something about seeing other writers in person, looking them in their non-pixalated eyes and seeing a kindred soul - *clears throat* okay, I'll stop with the mush. So I love conferences. I've made that pretty clear. But boy are they EXHAUSTING.

I've spent this entire long weekend (thank you, Vets for this extra day) just recovering. Well, getting my requested materials ready to send out and recovering. For anyone considering a weekend conference and not thinking about taking that following Monday off… I would advise you to think again. It's not just the physical fatigue of not getting those two weekend days to sleep in. There's a lot of mental and emotional fatigue that  I'd forgotten had taken a toll after my first conference.

Because here's the thing. Writers are great, right? I mean, we're probably the coolest people on the planet. We spend our free time MAKING THINGS UP. Some of us, the lucky ones, get to do it for a living. But it's a very solitary activity, even with Facebook and Twitter and whatever else you use to keep in touch with your writer friends, the ACTUAL WRITING happens alone, locked in your room with headphones on (for me, anyway). And it's REALLY easy to forget that you're not the only insane person out there doing this. You forget about the competition. And let me tell you, there's a lot of it. Conferences are perfect reminders of this.

And it might take you a few days after you get home and settle back into the real world to remember: this is a good thing.

If you're lucky, you'll have made a few new friends at this conference and maybe agreed to swap manuscripts, and it's always good to have another pair of eyes looking at your stuff. And more people who know your writing means more cheerleaders, and who doesn't want those? But realizing the competition also provides you with a unique opportunity to reexamine your own stuff and see what you can do better. Personally, I always find that critiquing someone else's work offers that "lightbulb moment" of understanding what you did wrong, or what you could be doing better.

Be glad for your competition. They're also your allies and will undoubtably make you stronger. So rest up, conference friends. We've got a lot of work to do!

Have you ever had a moment when you realized just how much competition there is out there? How did you deal with it?