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--
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!