Children's writing

Writers’ Conferences

So how was the writing conference?

Well, I’ll tell ya: I never know how to answer that question. It depends on which goals you consider.

There are (at least) 2 kinds of writing events: networking events, and craft-improvement events. A craft-improvement event involves actual writing, discussions of the craft, exercises, reading. Networking events involve learning about different editors and publishing houses, trends, specific wants, needs, and interests. The retreat last weekend was a networking retreat. I’m not good at networking. I prefer studying the craft.

Editor Cheryl Klein, likens finding a publisher to falling in love. It’s a compelling comparison; it’s as hard to find a compatible publisher as it is to find a life partner/soulmate. It’s looking for a needle in a haystack, or a bathing suit that not only fits, but flatters. It sometimes feels impossible and hopeless.

Well, that’s what attending a networking conference is like–like looking for a needle in a haystack. No pressure there, eh? If a “good” conference is one where I actually find that needle, well, then I haven’t been to a good conference yet. Does that mean the conferences are bad? No.

I now have the opportunity to submit manuscripts to a number of editors and publishing houses that wouldn’t normally accept a submission from agentless me. An opportunity–that’s something worth having. I also met some excellent writers and nice fun people–that’s something worth doing. I was urged by one attendee to ask a question that I hesitated to ask. I did, and got an answer–that’s something worth having. I got a couple of good suggestions for one of my manuscripts–that’s something worth having. I sold a few books, I made contact with a few teachers who might one day schedule school visits, I met Lisa Wheeler and Ponder Goembel, a writer/illustrator team that I admire. And I convinced Karen, Karen, and Jane to play euchre late into the night–totally worth doing!

I also missed the opportunity for a personal manuscript review due to a death in the editor’s family, had to sleep on a pull-out couch bed, and had ants consume my road food and my flesh. Not so great. And I ate too much. Whose fault is that?

So it was a good conference. One of my goals was to simply do a better job of sticking out my hand and saying hello–something I’ve learned from lks. You know what? I met that goal. Heck, I gave it a hug and became its best friend. I am, however, still looking for publishing love. There was no love-at-first-sight, but that’s not to say it couldn’t happen with one of the attending editors. I’m willing to work for it.

No matter how elusive this thing called love is, I keep looking. I wouldn’t be a writer if I weren’t a dreamer.

Categories: Children's writing