“So, how did you get your start as a writer?”
I cannot tell you many times I’ve been asked that question. Fortunately, I always have a ready answer: “I went to a good writers conference!”
When I first started writing – back when the earth first cooled and dinosaurs still roamed – I had no clue what I was doing. A friend told me about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California’s beautiful Santa Cruz mountains, and I went. I loved it from the minute I stepped out of the car. Cherry blossoms breezed across the road and dogwood trees blossomed pink and white. More importantly, friendly writers and un-intimidating editors strolled close enough for me to touch. I showed my writing to an editor. She was singularly underwhelmed. (Her exact words: “Keep writing, Dear. You’ll get better.” Ouch!) But I took a tremendous Major Morning instruction class (8 hours total), plus a plethora of workshops, and I spent my off-time rewriting like a crazy person. The result was my first published book.
That’s how I got started. And it is just one of the reasons I am so quick to recommend writers’ conferences to writers, especially those starting out.
If you are wondering whether or not you should lay out the bucks to attend such a conference, consider:
- You’ll get expert training. Most of what I know I learned at writers’ conferences. Believe it or not, the biggest reason manuscripts are rejected is because they just aren’t up to par. Yours may be good. Perhaps even really good. But to be published, it has to be great enough to stand out in today’s glutted market.
- You can get individual instruction. In some of the best writers’ conferences, special mentoring tracks are available. A published writer works with you and your manuscript to help you zero in on whatever it is you need the most.
- You can “network.” Okay, I don’t really like the word. In fact, I’m not that crazy about the concept. Gathering up people in order to use them? Uggg! But give it a different name and it can mean easing into a group of people with the same struggles and concerns you have, where you can gain mutual support and wisdom. That’s a concept I do like!
- Hear challenging presentations. Most great conferences have a keynote speaker who is way more than just entertaining. He/she is an expert in the field of writing and has helpful, inspiring words to share.
- Interact with the Pros. Yes, I really mean the pros. As in editors and publishers and agents and such. They are at the conference for the simple reason that they want to meet people like you. They want to read your work and consider it. They want to help you be all you can be as a writer.
There are some really good writers’ conferences coming up. But I especially want to mention the 42nd Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference that’s just over a month away– April 15 – 19.
So, you ask, “Will you be there, Kay?”
Will I?! Couldn’t keep me away! In fact, I’ll be leading a Major Morning session entitled Eat, Pray, Write: The Spritual Life of the Writer. I’d love to have you join me!
When? April 15 – 19
Where? Mount Hermon (Santa Cruz Mountains), California
More info? mounthermon.org/writers
Want to talk to a real live someone? 888-MH-CAMPS