I just got back from an amazing writer’s conference, In Your Write Mind, at Seton Hill University. It happens every June, and is not only for alums of their MFA program but for any interested writer. Not only was it chock full of great workshops, panels, opportunities to pitch to agents and an editor, but it was a lovely opportunity to reconnect with old classmates and fellow writers, and get to know new folks. I do have to put in a plug for my alma mater, Seton Hill. I have never encountered a more supportive writing community for popular fiction folks, and that wonderful sense of community continues way past graduation.
For me, my favorite part of attending conferences is sharing stories and listening to the stories of other working writers. Writing can be a lonely business and almost every career has its ups and downs. It’s very encouraging to hear from folks who’ve recovered from down periods and gone on to solid publishing careers. This year’s guest of honor, for example, was award-winning horror writer Paul Tremblay. He was delightfully honest in sharing that his first two published novels weren’t well received, and he ended up splitting from his publisher. It was five years before he published his next novel and got his career back on track. I also loved that he was a husband, dad, and school teacher who’d taught for 23 years and was managing to keep writing, despite a very full life! His self-deprecating humor and sheer perseverance inspired me.
At conferences, you tend to meet writers of all ages and stages in their careers, although Seton Hill’s conference is skewed toward more experienced writers, since it grew out of an MFA program. Each attendee has a story and a longing to write, despite the long odds of ever becoming the next Stephen King or Nora Roberts.
I always come home exhausted after three days of intensive workshops and events. But I’m also reinvigorated. Viva writers!