Welcome to April and our new mentor:
Now, I don’t know where you guys are in the world, but I live in Colorado Springs and the last weekend of April is always the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Unfortunately, I’m not attending this year (I have no money, though they do offer scholarships if you’re interested!).
I know a lot of people go to conferences because there’s generally the incredible opportunity to meet agents and editors – and writers are always interested in what they can do to further their careers.
But there are other reasons to go to a conference, and Terry Pratchett reminded me of that reason. I came across an interview he did with the BBC. Pratchett was talking about attending science fiction conventions – similar enough to conferences in my opinion.
I know agents and editors are cool people. I had the great pleasure to hear Dan Lazar of Writer’s House and Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary give workshops on querying and pitching and all that good stuff. They were professional, had awesome advice, and generally seemed like a couple folks I wouldn’t mind having a beer with.
That being said…I was also surrounded by writers and their stories. I listened in on critique sessions. I attended a writing exercise workshop led by my buddy Bret. I heard Jim Butcher and Robert Crais talk. A conference is like a weekend-long mentorship. There’re so many people to meet, so many things to do, and – most important – so many things to learn.
In the interview (you can watch it below, it’s only a couple minutes) Pratchett talks about meeting Arthur C. Clarke and Moorcock. He says that these guys seemed like ‘normal guys’ and he was a ‘normal guy’ so…maybe he could do this for real too. When I attended the conference I thought something very similar: these bestselling authors are approachable, fun, and smart. They work hard. But they’re regular Joes. My actual thought was something like: “I’m on the playing field!” (Sure, I’m on the bench at the moment, learning from the experts…but I’m not in the stands! I’m a player!)
And just to prove my point that ‘normal people’ can do this: I attended that conference with my friend Fleur. She was also going around, listening to the same talks, going to the same workshops. She’s fun, approachable, smart, and she works hard. And guess what? Her book is coming out in October.
(Shameless plug – and there will be more – if you have a child in elementary school, or if you are a librarian for an elementary/middle school you should know that her book is Double Vision by F.T. Bradley and it’s awesome. More info forthcoming.)
Has anyone had a similar experience at a conference? Have you ever just gotten that energetic boost from being around other talented people?