This piece, which I wrote in my capacity as 2015 Conference Director, is appearing today on the Pikes Peak Writers blog. Only I spelled my name correctly.
I don’t know if I should attend the conference. I’m not a “real” writer.
If you write, or if you want to write, you are welcome at our conference. You don’t need to show ink-stained fingers at the door to prove your worthiness. If you have the desire to write or learn more about writing, you’ll be welcome at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.
But I’m shy/introverted/antisocial and nobody will want to talk to me.
Then let me teach you the four magic words: What do you write? Ask anyone that and they’ll happily talk your ear off. And if they aren’t socially stunted, they will in turn ask, “And what do you write?” Instant conversation starter!
Aren’t these things often cliqueish?
People do tend to like to talk to people they already know. But everyone on the conference planning committee, and every single volunteer, is encouraged to reach out and be especially welcoming to the new faces in the crowd. Friendships, critique groups and love affairs have all started between people who were strangers before they met at our conference. (Okay, possibly not love affairs. But it could happen.)
Where should I sit during the meals if I don’t know anybody?
Pick a table, any table. For lunches and dinners, every table is hosted by a faculty member. There are signs on every table indicating who is sitting there and what they write or represent. So you could sit at a table with someone knowledgeable about your genre, or you could strike out in a new direction. You might sit with an author you’re a fan of, or an agent or editor you’re interested in querying at some point (a great way to break the ice). And remember the four magic words!
I can’t possibly talk about my writing. I’ll probably vomit on my shoes if a Big Author or Agent asks me what I write. Help!
Relax, Grasshopper. That story you’re writing? It’s your story. Own it. Be proud of it. Remember that people ask because they’re interested, not to trick you out of your inheritance or learn your secret family recipe for barbecue sauce. Also, the people asking the questions are human beings, not deities. They’ve got pets, children, achy feet, cranky coworkers and a mysterious rattle under the hood of their car, just like the rest of us. So erase any pedestals you’ve erected for them in your mind, and you’ll be just fine.
I’m not a beginning writer. Is there going to be anything there for me?
Tons. When we put together the workshop schedule, we try to balance between beginner, intermediate and advanced writers, as well as balancing the craft and the business aspects with the writing life. And we’ve never met a writer yet, no matter how experienced, who didn’t think there was some aspect of their writing they could improve upon. Sometimes just doing the writing exercises in a workshop will spark ideas you can apply to your work in progress, whether it’s your very first manuscript or your seventh published novel. And don’t forget, this is a wonderful time to network with other writers, as well as industry professionals.
Will you be talking about my specific genre?
We do have some genre-specific workshops, plus we take the attitude that good writing is good writing, no matter the genre. We find that elements of different genres, such as romance, horror, suspense and mystery, cross a variety of genres.
Where do you stand on indy vs. self vs. traditional publishing?
One thing we’re never going to do is tell you the exact path you have to travel. We support all paths to publication, because we want the stories to be told. We want to help writers put out their best work. To that end, we try to provide a balance of insight into as many types of publishing as we can. This year we’re focusing on Choose Your Writing Adventure because we want to celebrate all the choices available to writers today, as well as bring back the fun of the most wildly diverse occupation there is—writing.
For more information about the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference: Choose Your Writing Adventure, please visit our website.