Some of you know that I lost my beloved literary agent in September 2013.
No, she didn’t die. She left the business, though it felt like a death to me.
For months, I cried and ate Oreos. The tears helped. The cookies just gave me a sugar hangover and didn’t change reality. For the full story of my writing woes over the years, read Who the hell are you?
I fell into a deep, purple Funk, but forced myself to start querying agents again.
The process sucks as much as it did for my first novel (and second, and third…). The agent I adored represented my fourth novel.
To date, my rejection total for book #4 is:
That really isn’t very many in the publishing world, but tell that to my heart.
Mudpie Writing has helped me deal with the pain. It’s given me a fresh creative outlet for my writing. I’m making tons of friends and people seem to appreciate having a place to fight our creative monsters together.
One way to de-funk yourself
As luck would have it, a Facebook friend posted that the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado was happening this past April. That’d give me 2.5 days to soak up all things literary. The early bird special ended the next day.
I had the cash, so I signed up to go.
I’ve attended many, wonderful conferences over the years: Austin, Dallas, Albuquerque, etc. Pikes Peak was right up there as one of the best: friendly, educational and organized.
Friday morning, I walked into a room of 400 strangers, but by Sunday afternoon, I left new buddies whom I planned to stay in touch with while on the road to publication.
Let’s confer on conferences
Although conferences do happen year-round, summer seems to be their #1 season. To me, they provide three essentials for every writer: Inspiration – Information – Connections.
1. Inspiration – This alone is reason enough to go. Hearing how others overcame such impossible odds (from both the presenters and attendees) gives you hope to keep pursuing your dreams. I have a renewed passion for my writing and determination for my career. Plus, more agents requested my full manuscript.
2. Information – Conferences also offer an incredible amount of content on both the CRAFT of writing (dynamite dialogue, creating tension, communicating character) and the BUSINESS of writing (blogging for writers, how to make a book trailer, being an authorpreneur. I LOVE that word!). Plus, they sold a CD of all 98 workshops for $50.
That’s .51⊄ per workshop, people! A steal.
3. Connections – I’ve just widened my circle of support. We’re all at different points in our careers, but that’s what makes it fun. No matter how new or seasoned we are, we each share a deep love for words and books.
Show me the money
Are conferences cheap?
$395 – conference (all meals included during the 2.5 days. Wonderful. Many conferences don’t do that).
$420 – hotel ($105 per night, which was terrific, but still far from free).
$150 – gas + meals on the road.
A thousand dollars for a weekend getaway isn’t inexpensive, but what was it worth to super-size my spirit?
The are ways to cut costs. Sign up for conferences as soon as registration opens for the best rate. Room with a friend, or stay with someone in the city of the conference if possible. Plus, driving is usually cheaper than flying (depending on the location).
Next week, we’ll talk about how to de-funk yourself as a writer when conferences aren’t an option.
Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, what was your experience like?
Share your comments with me. If you enjoyed this blog post, please pass along to your friends.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
I have been to numerous writer conference over the years and, overall, my experiences have been positive for all the reasons you mention here. I’ve found that, typically, you get what you pay for when it comes to conferences. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some good, smaller, inexpensive ones, (I’ve been to some of them!). However, usually I’ve come away with the most helpful information and jazzed about getting back to my writing when I’ve paid the higher prices. It has been several years since I’ve attended a conference and reading your post today makes me think that maybe that’s just what I need to re-energize my muse. Thanks, Marcy!
Marcy Mason McKay
You’re so right, Jenny, we do typically get what we pay for. You should ask on Facebook about upcoming writers’ conferences, or just google it….sometimes, striking out to a new one like I did with Pike’s Peak can do wonders for your literary soul. Thanks for stopping by!
I agree!! You and I met at PPWC and we shared the same experience of getting inspired! I am going to LitFest next week in Denver and then to another one in Minneapolis in April 2015. In between conferences I stay inspired by reading blogs like this one, doing online classes (Delve.com is my personal favorite), and getting to know other writers through facebook and twitter.
I have, without a doubt, written more since PPWC than I did in the previous 6 months. Definitely worth every penny!
Marcy Mason McKay
Hi K.J.! I LOVE that you’ve written so much since Pike’s Peak. I also think it’s great how you’re spacing out different conferences to help keep you inspired, as well as your various blogs and classes for you in the meantime. You’re a wise woman. WRITE ON!
Thanks for this Marcy.
I have not been to any conferences myself, because of the cost, but I am starting to think that I should see it as a necessary expense once or twice a year, just like having a computer and paying for Internet access.
I am convinced that real-world conferences beat webinars hands-down, mainly because of the opportunities to talk to people, but perhaps paying $500-$1000 makes you concentrate a lot harder and makes you more inclined to switch off from the distractions.
Marcy Mason McKay
Hello, Phil! You absolutely, positively MUST attend a conference. Even if it’s just once a year. Webinars can’t even compare. You sitting alone at your laptop, or sitting in workshops and sharing meals with SO many other writers. Discussing what you just learned, as well as other ideas. There’s just something about being surrounded around like-minded people that does wonders for your heart. Go for it!
Anita Grace Howard
It’s been so long since I’ve attended a writer’s conference and absorbed all the great writerly vibes via workshops and fellowship. I’ve been doing so many events just to promote my books, I rarely have time to do anything that will refill my writer’s well. That’s something that is definitely on my to do list for this year. Thanks for the reminder of how much I love these!
Marcy Mason McKay
Burnout is burnout whether it’s trying so hard to get published (like me), or working yourself into the ground while promoting your books (like you). Either extreme has its own sets of heartache. I hope you do make it back to a writers’ conference next year!
April Myers Redmon
I absolutely LOVE to go to conferences. They are fabulous motivators for me.
Marcy Mason McKay
Me, too, April. Since I can’t afford to go to them all, I always buy the conference CD when I do attend them. They have all the workshops for me to listen to and help de-funk myself throughout the year. Thanks for the comment!