It’s such a treat to finally attend writer events in person again. There were a handful last year, but this year it’s been packed with so many opportunities to go out and meet fellow word creatives and other professionals in the field.
Last weekend, I attended the Houston Writers Guild Authorpalooza. It was small but mighty. Along with guest of honor Kevin J. Anderson and literary agent Stacy Kondla, I was lucky enough to participate by offering a presentation on small presses and taking one pitch. (Since Cursed Dragon Ship only publishes horror, fantasy, and science fiction, it limits the number of attendees I talk to about publishing with us.)
Houston Writers Guild is where I cut my teeth in the writing industry. My original publisher, Inklings Publishing, attended that first convention. Jane Friedman was the guest speaker that year. Talk about a wealth of information! I still read her blog. If you’re interested, check it out here. Sadly, I’ve outgrown much of what it has to offer, but it remains a vital resource to beginner writers, and I have no idea what I’d have done without them when I was starting out.
Though I’ve moved on from every day membership, I still welcome the opportunity to give back to those where I was years ago. As part of my mission statement, I want to help the next generation of authors. So when the president and CEO, Fern Brady, invited me to judge their short story contest for their Journey into Art anthology, it was an easy yes for me. When one of the speakers had to cancel last minute, I jumped at the opportunity to talk about small presses. (It also gave me the excuse to iron out a compelling presentation I can use at other conventions.)
Since I graduated from Western’s Masters program in publishing lead by KJA, we’ve kept in contact. (If you’re interested in the program, check it out here. It’s taught by two professionals who run successful small presses. Therefore, the information you get is actionable, not just theoretical.) My husband (the first Kevin in my world) and I took KJA to St. Arnold’s Beer Garden in order to hang out, talk business, and sample a local delight. It was a lovely time with a good friend.
Which I suppose is the whole point. Even as writers, where most of our actual work consists of staring at blinking cursors or silent tape recorders (for those dictators out there), it’s vital that we get out there and meet other people in our industry. My first writing groups were formed from HWG members; some of those original members are still close friends of mine. So don’t just sit in your world alone and create. (Unless you’re satisfied with that. There’s no rule that you have to publish in order to be a writer.) Go out and meet your fellow writers. Get to know people who are where you are as well as those ahead of you in this career. Make connections that can turn into resources if you hit a brick wall in your writing or publishing. And give back when you’ve made it higher up the chain.
It’s one of the highlights of a writing career. We don’t have to compete. There are more readers than a large number of writers can keep entertained. There’s room for all of us. By helping each other, we don’t hurt ourselves. Just like the 20booksto50K motto, a rising tide raises all boats. By working together, we can actually raise that tide. It’s empowering.
Have you been to a writer convention recently? What was the benefit to you?