Sunday, 9 August 2009

I'm baaack

OK, so nobody knew I was gone. Fair enough.

I spent Friday at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers' Conference, which was a first for me. Saturday, as predicted, I crashed. Not surprising, seeing as I attended two panel discussions, skipped a third in favour of a serendipitous encounter, attended a two-hour "boot camp" with editor Shannon Marchese, two teaching sessions with Jeff Gerke, and of course, two meals and various hobnobbing sessions. A lot for someone with fatigue issues.

I'd never been to a writers' conference before and I'm still absorbing it. And I'm wondering if it was a good use of my time.

The panels were so-so. The questions posed to the editors were very basic, things the participants should have known if they'd done any research. Google is your friend, people.

On the other hand, Jeff Gerke's continuing session on advanced fiction writing was great. Really. He's a good teacher and makes things very clear. I'm working my way through his The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction right now. The boot camp with editor Shannon Marchese was also very interesting, if somewhat less organized. I took a lot of notes, so I'll be able to review that one.

What conferences are about more than anything, of course, is networking. It was nice to meet in the flesh people I'd only known online, even if the meeting was all too brief. I also met new people, several of whom were insanely nice. You know, the kind of people you don't feel you deserve to meet, they're so nice. Three in one day has to be some kind of record.

As for concrete results, that remains to be seen. I don't need them to consider the conference a success though.

Anybody want to share with me what kind of benefits (or not) you've reaped from conferences?


John UpChurch said...

Sadly, I've not been able to attend many conferences simply because they cost more money than I want to spend (read: anything above $0). Someday I will make up for the serious lack in my training, though i think that college workshops were similar. Glad this one turned out well, and I'm looking forward to more notes.

sarah (Genmom) said...

I am so sorry I missed this one simply b/c it was so close!

Hope to catch up soon!

Janet said...

John, if anything results from ongoing contacts, I'll let you know.

Sarah, it's a shame you weren't there. It would have been more fun for me if I'd had someone I knew with me.

Janna Qualman said...

Agh, but you're not coughing up any details on the serendipitous encounter? Stinker.

I haven't been to any (though once a big Lit Fest, which I considered a mini-conference). It's on my list of Future Places to Go, but I don't have any specific thoughts on which one to go to.

I hope you share more stuff after you've absorbed and assessed. I'd like to learn what sorts of things you did take from the conference.

Johanna said...

I've never been to a conference myself and admit that I'm equally intrigued and intimidated by them.

Interested to hear your feedback once you've had a few days to process.

On a lighter note, I'm originally from Philadelphia so that is so cool!

Janet said...

OK, Janna, just for you, the serendipitous encounter.

Participants at the conference were entitled to a 15-minute private appointment with an editor, author, or agent for each day they attended. In my case, that meant one. Because I registered rather late, my first choices were no longer available. As I was standing in the line to make some adjustments, the lady in charge made some kind of joke about not getting involved with Larry Leech. The gentleman in question looked at my badge and said that I had stood him up yesterday. Huh? The organizers had made a mistake and scheduled me for appointments the day before, when I wasn't even there.

Anyway, he was available, there was a choice of panel discussions I didn't find terribly inspiring, and so we sat down to talk. He was very kind and encouraging, took my one-sheet and said he might pass it on, and gave me suggestions on people I should contact (he's a writer and writing instructor, not an editor or agent).

Johanna, I'll do another post then, I guess.

Janna Qualman said...

Ah, thanks for linking. I'm not good about coming back for return comments.

It sounds as though it could have been much worse, though their scheduling problem could have been disastrous. Was 15 minutes about the right amount of time?

Janet Ursel said...

Janna, that's what email notification of further comments is for... ;o)

Yes, 15 minutes was enough for a focused discussion. And I'm sure that if both parties wanted to arrange further talks, it could be done. I also spoke very briefly to the workshop presenters after the session, but I kept it very, very short.


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