Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Number One Reason to Go to Writing Conferences



               Last weekend, New York author, Becky Aikman, (Saturday Night Widows) came to dinner at my home in Los Angeles. We had a blast – after meeting only five weeks ago in Texas at the Pulpwood Queens Book Club Weekend. There, I shared a hotel room with Boston author, Marci Nault, (Lake House), whom I met in Newport Beach last fall at the Southern California Writers Conference. 

The Texas conference was like summer camp – we were stuck in a tiny town with fried alligator and costume party games, but then left with autographed mementos and tears in our eyes. I also met some of the wonderful Girlfriend Bloggers, Christa Allen and Malena Lott, face to face - as opposed to FaceBook, and shared parenting stories with Houston author, Karen Harrington (Sure Signs of Crazy).  
 I referred new writers to an agent whom I’d met in New Orleans in December at the uber intellectual Words & Music Conference hosted by the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society. While feasting  on beignets in the French Quarter, I compared notes with author Jennifer Stell, (Ambassador’s Wife) who lives in Bolivia, and caught up with with my former agent from New York, who introduced me to an editor who remembered my first novel and may be interested in my next one. Now we are friends.

And I’m writing this in my sweats, because I just finished hiking with novelist, Lisa Doctor, a fellow writing instructor whom I met at the Writers Program at UCLA Extension - you guess it - conference.

I don’t go to conferences to make friends, but it's by far my favorite part. Writing can get lonely, hanging out by yourself, talking to imaginary people in your head. When you are stuck at a strange place with other like-minded people waiting in line for coffee, it would be hard to stay quiet. Not only can you share opinions about panels, procrastination, and self publishing, but you can learn where to get the best souvenirs for your kids - and make plans for lunch.

When I was starting out, I evaluated conferences by how much they cost, how far away they were, and what panels would be presented. (I still sigh over the Maui Writers Conference brochure every year.) But my goal was straightforward: to get writing tips and to meet agents. I didn’t know about the fun part. 

Soon, it became obvious that one could have a real conversation with incredible writers simply by asking them to autograph their books. That’s why they are there. 
Or so they say.   
I have a hunch that even the bestselling authors secretly go to conferences for another reason…to make friends.
___________________
Leslie Lehr is the prizewinning author of six books and a contributor to the New York Times "Modern Love."
WHAT A MOTHER KNOWS is her new novel, now available everywhere.
For more information, go to www.leslielehr.com
www.faceboook.com/authorleslielehr

4 comments:

  1. Leslie, Every time I'm thrown in with a bunch of other writers, my introvert turns inside out and upside down. They are my peeps, and we all seem to have the same frailties as well as eccentricities. I must go to one soon, as soon as I finish the blanking novel!

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  2. Leslie, as great as the Internet can be for shrinking the world and making other writers accessible every day, it's so wonderful when you get time to spend real time with other writers face to face. Terrific post!

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  3. So great to have chatted in real time and in real-person!!! That weekend ignited my little writer's brain--it's still backfiring at times, but at least the motor's running!

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  4. Yup. Some are silver and some are gold, but you who share the writing life are platinum!

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