Monday, February 7, 2011

Local Writer's Conference

Our local paper has started early promotion for the local writer's conference. I have mixed feelings.

I love the conference because I'm acquainted with many of the organizers. When I went back to college over a decade ago (as an . . . um . . . older than average student), I originally majored in Accounting. But every second I wasn't in an accounting class, I was hanging out in Merrifield Hall in the English department. Those were tough years. I really wanted to be a writer . . . but I knew that I'd have a better chance of making a decent income (or any income, for that matter) by going into accounting. The good folks in the English department did everything they could to try and encourage me, including giving me an assignment to dress up in a cow costume (complete with floppy udder) for a skit in one of my required English classes (the point was, they were trying to get me to recover my sense of humor, because I had lost it somewhere--probably in the accounting department while trying to calculate stock splits).

And I love the history of the conference. For a writer's conference in the middle of nowhere, in a podunk town, that's always scheduled during North Dakota spring (when it's cold and damp and slushy and ugly), our writer's conference has an amazing history of bringing in famous authors like Eudora Welty!

But I'm disappointed because it's not like a typical writer's conference; or not like what I've heard other conferences are like. There are no pitch sessions, no genre writers (all literary), no editors or publishers. It's mainly just writers/screenwriters talking about their work and the craft of writing. There are public readings, but I've never been to one--can you picture me standing up and reading a zombie story right after the man who writes about his abusive father and just before the poet? Yeah. That'll go over well.

So I look forward to it and I go, and I usually enjoy it . . . but I always come away feeling slightly unsatisfied. It's a combo of "I wish it was like other writer's conferences" (with pitch sessions and editors and publishers) and "this isn't a conference for writers like me" (nothing genre).

Course, maybe that'll change when I get my novel published and they ask me to appear on a panel (wink)!

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