As with most arts, writing is a lonely business. You may be involved in a local writer’s group or a critique group. But for the most part, you work on your own. You are either ensconced in a home office (or part of the house you declare “Off Limits” if even for a temporary period of time) or you hunker down in an establishment (typically a coffeehouse per the cliche) and try to avoid eye contact.
The best place to feel validated is at a writer’s conference. I’ve been attending them for about ten years, from the Kansas Writers Association (who no longer have a conference), to the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., and the Kansas Authors Club. Nowhere else can you be around other people that “get it”, understand the frustrations of finding the best words to place in the correct order, filling the gap of plot holes, and fending off those who believe writing is nothing more than sitting at a keyboard and, well, writing.
Beyond that, there are the contest entries, search for an agent, search for a publisher, marketing and social networking, all while trying to work on the next project and, oh yeah, have some kind of a life. It all comes together at a writer’s conference.
My attendance has increased the scope of the writers I have met beyond my local scene. Regardless of genre and marketing success (or lack thereof), I have come to learn how other writers make time for their craft, publish and promote. I have pleasantly discovered we revel in each other’s triumphs and are not challenged by them. I have renewed invigoration at the end of each event, ready to go home and just pick right back up where I left off.
Now, I will have the opportunity to share my experience, struggles, and notions as a speaker at Kansas Authors Club Convention, from October 4 through October 6, here in Wichita, KS. I am grateful for the chance to get feedback on my own opinions and notions about writing historical fiction, about what others have perceived about it in advance of my presentation, and how we can learn from each other.
That’s just it. The person at the podium is not an expert, per se. Just someone with some experience and a few ideas that work for them. It all goes back to coming out from behind the keyboard and interacting. For a few hours, a couple of days, a bunch of writers will gather and discuss Craft. After that, they will return to the small space that is their own personal Comfort Zone until it is time to gather again.