Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Two perspectives

Tell us which conferences are your favorites and why you like to attend them.

 By RM

I'm afraid I can't help much here. I've been to two in my life. But I'll give my perspective on both.
First was Bloody Words in Victoria, BC, 2011 - a Crime Writers of Canada event. I was in such a fog of misery and worry that I didn't absorb much, mostly because I had upcoming a life-changing five (5!) minutes to pitch my novel -- to a real live literary agent.

I was also too shy to make many connections, though I remember talking to another writer in a bar for a long time, mostly listening. I sat through several interesting panels and made tons of notes and learned approximately nothing. But that's me then. Learning is a skill too.
The five minutes was a disaster, by the way. For all my rehearsing, when it came to giving my pitch to this holy woman I couldn't get two coherent words out. Like watching a precious heirloom fall in slow-mo, I saw the pity bloom in her face. Send it along, she said at the end. Yeah right.

But since then things have definitely taken a good turn. My first release this March coincided with the offer to sit on a panel at the inaugural CUFFED International Crime Writers Festival in Vancouver, Granville Island: http://www.cuffedfestival.com/.

Ausma Zahanet Khan, Irene Lau, RMG

Let me tell you from the perspective of someone with a knee-knocking fear of public speaking, this was a challenge. Say no more. But my personal battles are really besides the point here. The festival to me was BEAUTIFUL. All those people, other writers not so different from me. We met on panels, met in the audience, met in the after-hours parties. Writers I've read and admired, writers who turned out to be real, imperfect, funny. And those who ran the show embraced me like family. I made friends! I hung on every word. I walked around Granville Island and took pictures. I inhaled the moments. I learned.
I'm quite sure that perfect confluence will never happen to me again, because that was then and this is now. But I'm looking forward with enthusiasm to CREATIVE INK in May (check it out: http://www.creativeinkfestival.com/) and all the other conferences and festivals in my future. 
I may not have answered the question so well, but that's my oblique glimpse at writer festivals and conferences. My recommendation is go if you can. Don't expect miracles, but be open to whatever may happen there. Meet people. Be innocent. Learn.


Allan J. Emerson said...

I remember many of the same feelings at my first conference. I didn't do the agent conference thing--the thought of trying to describe my book in ten minutes to a stranger froze my blood. I did learn from the panel discussions though, and it was reassuring to talk to other writers about the challenges of writing while working full time.

RJ Harlick said...

I'm sure your perfect confluence will happen again, for you discovered the secret of conferences. It is all about meeting people, fellow writers and readers and generally having a good time. Have fun at your next one.

Unknown said...

Yes, if you're like me, you'll dip your toes in cautiously. But so quickly you'll see it's just really nice to meet people in the same boat as you. Hopefully next year I'll be able to give a few more perspectives on the topic!

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