So. Last year I went to my first writing conference. It was this one and it was amazing. Here's what I learned:
My MS needed more work than I thought.
The hook is the hook, so don't introduce it thirty pages later. Introduce it on the first page.
My MS was better than I thought.
How to critique others' writing in a way that's helpful to them.
Published authors are very generous with their time and advice. Always take notes.
Also, published authors are people.
Editors and Agents are only slightly less scary than I imagined. (Okay, they're cool. And people too.)
How to bring a book full circle.
But the greatest thing about going to this conference, hands down, was meeting my critique partners. Meeting them has been the greatest thing for my writing since I learned how to write in first grade.
This conference put me six months to a year ahead of where I might've been if I'd only had books, blogs and articles to direct me.
I'm going again this year as a seasoned veteran and am so excited for what more I can/will learn.
Now, having said all this, it is possible to attend a conference that may not be as fantastic. I attended a different conference (which will remain nameless) that was not as helpful. The agents there were not as accessible and the crit groups not as useful. Also, there was a query session that was downright unprofessional and, well, rude. In fact, one of my contacts from this conference recently emailed me and told me she quit writing after the query session because it was "confusing and intimidating." And, if anything, conferences should encourage and teach, not discourage.
However, I also met some great writer friends (conference attendees and published authors) who were amazing people and generous with their advice. And for that reason alone, the conference was worth it.
Definitely my favorite part of both conferences was meeting people like me. People who understand what it's like to cry over made up characters and stay up until all hours of the morning to get that scene right. I loved that we would discuss for hours about people and situations that had found its genesis in one of our heads. That, to me, was priceless.
So, what are your conference stories? Have they been good experiences, not so good experiences, or horrifying? I want to know.
Meanwhile, can't wait to see anyone who will be attending WIFYR this year!!!