I'm off to the Southern California Writer's Conference this weekend in San Diego. It's only a couple of hours from my house (but no, I won't be commuting). From Friday through Sunday night, I plan go to every workshop I can stuff into my schedule during the day, and join my many friends at the sushi bar each evening, until they kick us out.
If I'm lucky, I will come home exhausted, wired, inspired, and possibly with a cold.
Okay, I could do without the cold.
I don't know where the publishing industry is headed. Right now, mainstream publishers seem to be floundering about, and self-publishing is a free-for-all, but that could all change. The only thing I still believe in is writer's conferences. Here's a clip of Wes Albers, co-director of the SCWC, explaining why:
I completely agree. We need to get out of our own heads.
My first conference was in 2006, in Palm Springs. At the time, I was a newspaper columnist. I wanted to write a book, but didn't know what kind. At the end of that conference, I knew two things:
1. I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did.
2. I won the Topic Award contest, so even if I didn't know much, I didn't suck as much as I thought I did, either.
The funny thing about winning that contest is, those 250 words gave me the idea I could write 70,000 more and make a book. Or maybe it was the way the conference directors kept telling us that we didn't suck. (They're an irreverent crew, which endears them to me all the more.)
The SCWC has a couple of conferences each year, and each year I attend both. They validate my writing and smack me upside the head when I start feeling too smug. I've met some wonderful people who have become friends. I advise all writers, especially those without a steady critique group, to seek out a good, working writer's conference in their area.
Trust me. You need to get out of your own head!