Friday, January 10, 2020

Attending My First Conference in Years by Sydney Salter

The year 2019 reminded me about the importance of connecting with other writers and learning new work strategies at writing conferences. I attended the Women Writing The West conference in San Antonio, Texas - what a great group of writers! The group is super welcoming, supports professional writers with great prizes and marketing opportunities, plus their conferences include really fun field trips - missions, museums, The Alamo.

I used to attend ALL of the local writing conferences, plus the two big SCBWI conferences, and I hosted two conferences in Salt Lake City, Utah and Boise, Idaho as the area's Regional Advisor, not to mention several smaller retreats and meetings.

After seven years I burned out. Running conferences turned from a joy to a chore as I found myself sandwiched between launching my children into the world and caring for my mother and mother-in-law who both had catastrophic life-changing events within two weeks of each other, which resulted in both of them living in my basement for a few months (along with a spare brother-in-law).

I should have contacted a Reality TV producer. But I was--
Freaked Out.
Stunned.
Discombobulated.

I managed to eke out some writing, slowly, painfully over those years. But connecting with the writing community? Aside from a monthly dinner with fellow writing friends (which I often skipped), I didn't have it in me. I hunkered down for intense care-giving.

Things eased in 2019 as I adjusted to all the various forms of loss. And even with one mother left in the basement, I felt like I returned to myself a bit more. A more "experienced" me (is that a nice way to say it?). I signed up for a writing conference in San Antonio, a city I'd always wanted to visit. I read a book about The Alamo. I entered the group's short story contest. I signed up for a pitch session.

What a lovely weekend of making new writing friends. Oh, the joy of talking to writers who are the only people who really get me (I wasn't the only one who'd read a book about The Alamo to prepare for the field trip). I felt like a "real" writer for the first time in a long time.

The best part? I came home from the conference so motivated to Get To Work!





5 comments:

  1. Great post and I'm so glad you went. Life events do more to us than those not experiencing them could ever imagine. Thanks for sharing this. I reposted it on my Facebook page.

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  2. A conference can be the perfect thing at the right time. <3 Glad you are re-sparking after so much reality. <3

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  3. I'm so glad things are easing up...at least a little. Keeping connected with writer friends is what keeps me inspired and, yes, sane. Sending you hugs!

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  4. I'm so glad you feel like you're getting back in the groove!

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