What Happens At A Writing Conference

My writing and photos appear
in both of these journals:
The Petigru Review &
moonShine review
What happens at a writing conference won't stay at a writing conference.

It shouldn't.

Writing conferences help writers and publishing professionals connect.  The result appears on your bookshelf or e-reader some day.  Of course, conference discussions, to an outsider, might sound odd. Eavesdrop and you'll hear of chihuahua killers, POV, cringe-worthy word puns, or how we killed someone off.  Don't worry. These are normal discussions from people who enjoy exploring the odd and different.

You like us that way and you know it! The books you buy depend on our quirks.

This past weekend, I taught several editing workshops and conducted manuscript critiques for the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC.  My writing conference resume now includes a conference 360 with experience as
  • a writing participant
  • the conference co-chair
  • the President of the organization
  • a member of the Board of Directors
  • an industry expert on faculty
This conference provided a small, intimate opportunity for everyone to pursue their love of writing and connect with some great people. Because of its smaller size, everyone found great opportunities to talk with other writers and faculty.  A group of us headed down to the beach after dinner on Saturday night and ambled toward the pier. We wandered along making up stories about items on the beach, laughing, and getting to know each other. When the faster walkers turned around 100 yards from the pier, we experienced a moment of playful rebellion.  Our goal was the pier; therefore, we must walk TO the pier.  The rebels caved under pressure and followed the determined to the pier where everyone touched the post, and we took a selfie.  Think Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory. That's the level of insistence (persuasion?) employed.

Writers, agents, editors, and a marketing pro conquer the pier!

Besides the knowledge, discussions, and fun, most writers return home with a stack of books and more members participating in their writing tribe.

My book haul.
Old and new tribe members: 
Cayce, David B. Coe, me, Dr. Kasie
Everyone imagines the solitary writer sitting in a darkened room with a single light by their keyboard as they hammer out the next best seller. Although, writing requires some solitude, we need to gather and connect with others who understand our craft.  If you write and have never attended a writing conference, then find one and go.  You do NOT need a completed work in order to attend.  You will learn more in that short weekend then you could in a year of writing, and you will gain a tribe of writers eager to know you and your characters.

Now, I know, I dropped that reference to a chihuahua killer and left it there for you to chew your fingernails over.  No, it's not an evil monster seeking out poor, helpless chihuahuas to kill...

Although I did learn in a conference a few years ago that Hispanics originally bred the chihuahuas as a small, simple food source...

But I digress.

Think of a large fantasy tome.  You know those massive, 1000 page suckers that require a back brace to carry them around.  (PS  David B. Coe, in the tribe member picture, writes these.)  Drop one from shoulder height and what do you get?

A chihuahua killer.

Have you attended a conference or thought about it?  Tell us about your experiences or ask questions in the comments section below.


Thought of you and others who attended this year, and wished I were there. Maybe next year, in whatever form the conference takes. Glad it went well!
ed wilson said…
This was a great conference. I enjoyed the intimate size, the opportunities for conversation with other writers, and of course the sessions. It was a worth while investment of my time.
Valerie, I missed you. Hope you are part of this experience next year.

Ed, I'm glad you had as good an experience as I did! Thanks for the feedback.
Kasie Whitener said…
It's so great to be around the other crazies, the ones who know what we mean when we say "the character hasn't told me that yet." The ones who suggest ways to improve our work and gently reassure what we have already done has value.

Thanks for the feedback and comraderie. I'm proud to be I. Your tribe!
Kasie, Yes! I love the way writers talk to each other. Non-writers don't get it, so we have to gather at conferences, workshops, and coffee shops to get that feedback. I can't wait to hear more about your work and where it's going.
LoryKC said…
I've missed this tribe!! I went for 2 years, then missed for 2 years...so maybe next year! I am in Salem, MA now having just wrapped up the Writers UnBoxed UnConference!
This was the first year for this one and I'm pretty certain Donald Maass fixed all the missing elements of my story in 2 days but now I have to actually write it all out!
The last time I was at SCWW, I walked to that pier alone and figured out many issues in my then-WIP on the way. I need to make it back soon--miss y'all! ;)
(Besides, this conference was amazing but there is not one single palm tree in sight!)

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