Sometimes, I feel behooved to stop and prop up a small building, in my spare time of course. Just kidding.
I've been back from the Ozarks Creative Writers' Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas now for ten days. So, I've had ten days to let it all gel, absorb it all, reflect. Eureka Springs in October is gorgeous. The view from my hotel room was of the woods, autumn leaves hanging heavy on the trees, dappled sunlight spotting the woods in the morning. I had a wonderful time, met amazing people. Ate far too much. But.
Conferences are social networking at the very least. They are a book contract and representation at the very most. Why is social networking important? Why pursue it?
Here is my take on the importance of social networking for the writer. As writers, we spend a lot of time in solitude. We spend a terrific amount of time in our own brains, moving all the boxes around. To stay on the cutting edge, to keep up on the industry, you simply must network. The best place to do that is not on Facebook. Facebook can help on a minor level but what I am talking about is the face to face, eye to eye, contact, the stimulation of a conference. It's the year after year recognition of "hey, it's you, how're you doing, what have you written since we last met?" I saw plenty of that at OCW. I should explain this was my first year there so nobody said that to me, but maybe next year.
You know, hunting enthusiasts hang out with other hunters. Surfers hang out with other surfers. Writers hang out with other writers. Isn't that a revelation? It's not weird. It's not ego-mania. It's simply making a connection that a writer won't make anywhere else. You will find it refreshes you, enthuses you, puts a new fire in your pen or your keyboard.
There is typically something for everyone at a writers' conference. Whether you are traditionally published (or wish to be), or self-published, into e-books, or some other publishing medium, there will be something for you to learn and absorb. You will learn invaluable information from your peers at these gatherings. And, you'll make some truly amazing friends. The downside? Well, eventually, you have to leave and go home.
Check into a writers' conference for 2012. Go, and come back refreshed and enthused about your craft.