Yesterday I attended my first major conference. The Willamette Writers Conference is one of the largest on the West Coast, drawing hundreds of writers from around the country, plus some awesome agents and editors. It was tough to choose which sessions to attend, there were just so many. Jane Friedman's session on how to use Twitter was helpful. And I pitched in-person to an agent for the very first time. Thanks to this tremendously helpful post about pitching, I knew what to expect and how to prepare.
Still, after reading Anne Lamott's hugely discouraging Salon magazine article I was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. And some of what she wrote is exactly what I found: high levels of tension among the attendees gathered in the 1:1 pitch session waiting area, anxious writers practicing their pitches with volunteers, people hanging on the words of the screenwriter at lunch who spoke of the Fairy Tale ending we all hope for. And most of us do hope for that golden ring, right? To get published. To call ourselves Authors, with the capital A. To join the book-signing club.
But to my surprise, the sessions on craft were well attended. People were friendly. The food was great. I learned a lot, conquered my nerves, and consider the day a great success. I garnered one request for my manuscript, but more importantly, I enjoyed a sense of camaraderie in an endeavor that is so often an exercise in isolation.
Have you gone to conferences? What was your experience?