“You’re a writer? Really? So, how did you get your start?”
I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked that question. Fortunately, I have a ready answer: “I went to a good writers conference!”
When I first started writing, I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was that from the time I was 12, I wanted to be a writer. Time was passing, so it was high time I got going. A friend invited me to go with her to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California’s beautiful Santa Cruz mountains. She backed out, so I went alone. I arrived to cherry blossoms breezing across the road and dogwood trees just beginning to open their pink and white cross-scarred blooms. More importantly, friendly writers and un-intimidating editors strolled close enough for me to touch–and talk to.
I hurried over to an editor and proudly handed her my amazingly well-written children’s book manuscript. She was amazingly underwhelmed. (Her exact words: “Keep writing, Dear. You’ll get better.” Ouch!) My first inclination was to take the next bus home. Instead, I attended a tremendous Major Morning instruction class on the craft of writing (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 (Special Women of the Bible, Concordia Press).
That’s how I got started. And it is just one of the reasons I’m 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 will 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 the writing isn’t up to par. Your writing 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. (They are at Mount Hermon.) 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 that word. In fact, I’m not that crazy about the concept. Gathering up people in order to use them? Uggg! But it can also 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. (This year at Mount Hermon: Liz Curtis Higgs!!)
- Interact with the Pros. Yes, pros. As in editors and publishers and agents and such. They are at the conference for one simple reason: 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.
Some really good writers’ conferences are coming up. But I especially want to mention the 43rd Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference that’s just over a month away: March 29 – April 3. Need an extra boost to get started? Check out the “head-start” offering the day before.
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 Want to Write With Sizzle? Start With A Solid Foundation. I’d love to have you join me!
When? March 29 – April 3
Where? Mount Hermon (Santa Cruz Mountains), California
More info? mounthermon.org/writers
Want to talk to a real live someone? 888-MH-CAMPS