So. The LDStorymakers Conference on Friday and Saturday was amazingness served in a bucket of awesomesauce. This was the second year I've gone, and it was even better than last year. Five hundred fellow writers. Three amazing agents-- all of whom I'm planning to query. Incredible authors and presenters.
This year I didn't think I'd be able to afford it. It's actually cheap, as conferences go, and it's less than an hour drive from my house. But things are tighter for us this year. However, I decided I wasn't going to miss out, and asked for extra hours at work. It. Was. So. Worth it.
There are a million amazing helps for writers on the internet. There are blogs, podcasts, chats, Twitter, and Facebook. But there are a few things that you can only get at a conference that make it absolutely worth the money to go.
Encouragement - Blogging is great for getting encouragement from fellow writers. But there's something about actually being there, meeting each other in person, that makes the encouragement stick. You get to meet those who've made it, and those who are where you are. You're all reaching for similar goals. You sit down at a table with complete strangers, and in five minutes you're all friends because you get each other. I met some incredible people at Storymakers, and got to catch up with friends from last year.
Networking - There is literally nothing better than a conference for networking. There are pitch sessions and panels with the agents, and other authors and writers to meet. People are there to help each other. What can I offer you, and what can you give back? It's also a great place to realize editors and agents are people. They're funny and friendly and get a little nervous before giving a class. They want to talk to you. I was lucky enough to get introduced to agent Sara Crowe by her client Dan Wells. (And I finally got a picture with this author and friend who has helped me in my own writing!) Whatever happens, you meet people and are in a position to help and be helped.
Education - The classes offered at Storymakers were amazing. After attending Larry Brooks' master class (taken from his book, Story Engineering, which I HIGHLY recommend), I have a whole different take on the writing process. Hearing him talk about it, even after I'd read parts of the book, is what really made the information sink in. He had us apply what he was saying to our own work-- literally write things down, sort of a mini workshop-- and things just clicked. If you go for nothing else, getting an education from the professionals is more than worth the money of the conference.
Entertainment - I don't know how it is at other conferences, but Storymakers is just flat-out fun. The MC, Sarah Eden, was hilarious beyond words. Her videos (matching authors to genres, her 7-year-old explaining book genres, and Love's Secret's Passion) kept the entire crowd wiping laughter tears from their eyes. The fellows at Writing Excuses recorded a live podcast including agent Sara Crowe. When they played a game cobbling together random bits of stories to make a new one, Sara got stuck (and really, how you could weave a high-stakes poker game into a Matrix-like world with a harlequin heroine and a jock is beyond me). So Sara just rejected the story! I couldn't stop laughing (and neither could Howard Tayler). There are few places in the world you can go where people get your writing jokes, and you get theirs. While not a vital component of a writer's education, it sure makes it a lot more fun.
You can get a lot of these things in other places. But getting them all bunched together in two days? There's no better place than a writing conference!
So, my friends, have you been to writing conferences before? Are you planning to someday? What are your thoughts and experiences?