When Small Conferences Go Large
For busy people who happen to be writers, conferences are a biggies to be prioritized. This is where contacts are made, pitches are heard, critiques discussed, new publishing opportunities are unveiled, networks spun. The bigger the event, the more costly, and often the farthest away. Yet, those are highlights of the calendar year, and often the smaller conferences are ignored as not being as worthwhile or as beneficial.
Since I began attending conferences in 2011, one thing I’ve learned is size isn’t important. I’ve attended some wonderful small conferences that turned out to be extremely valuable.
Write 2 Ignite, a small Christian Writers Conference held in March at North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina is one I look forward to every year. This was my first writers’ conference in 2011. I had no idea ...........
I attended the Ridgefield Writers’ Conference in Ridgefield, Connecticut, last fall while visiting my niece. This conference concentrates on critique and I learned new ways to help others in my writers’ group at home as well as how to be more critical of my own. I learned some rewrite skills that have saved me a lot of angst. I had a specific agenda in mind when I went to this one, but that didn’t go the way I thought it might. Beyond developing good critiquing skills, I learned it’s better to go without a specific agenda. Be ready for everything, critique, first pages, presentations, pitches, networking whatever is in your overall plan. But be open to surprises. Good things happen at conferences that you can’t forsee. Each one is different.
In March I added a small, close-to-home conference I’d not been aware of, even though it was their 17th year. The Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge, Georgia, is in one of my favorite small towns in the north Georgia mountains. This conference is held in a beautifully restored old home in downtown Blue Ridge. It’s been refitted to become the The Art Center. The Art Center has over 2500 varied artworks on display inside state-of-the-art gallery spaces. With over 500 member artists and over 1000 active members they present ongoing exhibits and seminars. There are classrooms where adults and children learn painting, pastel, watercolor, photography, music and dance. Several annual events are held, and one of them is the Writer’ Conference providing aspiring writers with literary education, the opportunity to learn and excel in their craft and inspiration within the serenity of the North Georgia Mountains. I was more than impressed. The keynote speaker, Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs, is witty, fun, and self-educated in the field of publishing. I met several other authors with great books, and learned something unique and valuable from every one.
In writing I’ve learned there are dozens of different ways to say the same thing. What the writer must do is figure out which way says it best. That might be different for different voices. Conferences are like that. Dozens of different ways to do things and accomplish the same thing. Ways you might not have thought of. One way isn’t better or worse. But one way will work best for each attendee. If you stay open you will learn something that will help you say your piece better, whether writing, rewriting, pitching or…selling the final product. Conferences can help you learn to say it better. Check out some small conferences where your voice will be heard.