Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thoughts on Ottawa Writing Conference

Well, after my first SCBWI conference experience, I can now say that going to a conference ROCKS!


I did learn quite a lot from the two guest speaker NY agents. Such as:

The whole process of how an agent picks you from the 1000 other submissions that week.

How two agents can be completely different but equally good at what they do.

And that I don't need to get all sweaty and tongue-tied if I find myself next to one.


I especially had an eye-opening experience at the Canadian-Idol-like anonymous query crit session. The agents sat like two mean judges and dissected the query letters that were read aloud. When that session began I was so hoping to have mine read. By the third one, I was wishing I could rescue my tender, virginal query and run far away with it. But there wasn't time for everyone's and so mine remained pure. Which is too bad.

But the main thing I took away from the day was NETWORKING. I met so many other writers. Published, unpublished, agented, un-agented, all working at their craft.

It reminded me of going to a Dogsled Race. One room full of other fanatical lovers of your chosen passion.

Where else could you have someone nod in silent understanding when you explain how your main character woke you up in the middle of the night and insisted you re-write the last chapter. Or see the recognition in someone's eyes of your gut-rot dismay when the book contract you thought you had was cancelled.

It was a very good place to be. Such energy and warmth. And if you think about it, we're all in competition with each other to gain the attention of the two lonely agents that were there. But there was nothing but encouragement in the air.

Let me see...how much does a plane ticket to NY cost for the SCBWI conference in January...

7 comments:

Anna said...

"And if you think about it, we're all in competition with each other to gain the attention of the two lonely agents that were there. But there was nothing but encouragement in the air."

That's what I love so much about children's writers. They are so incredibly supportive of one another and, at least in my experience, there isn't that feeling of having to push others out of the way. Aren't conferences so inspiring and invigorating?

Amber Hamilton said...

The New York conference...*looks into the distance and sighs*...someday.

LeSan said...

That was an fantastic post. I was right there with you as you cringed with fear for your guery. I could feel the excitement of all those like minded individuals with their hopes and dreams in tow. It sounds like you had a terrific time and learned a lot. Smiles all around!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Anna, yes, I love conferences!

Amber, we can do it! We just have to find 10 other writers to share a room with - but I'm NOT sleeping in the bathtub...again.

LeSan, thank you for your kind words.

Janet said...

Sounds like a great experience. I wish they would have a big conference in WV. But I know that is never going to happen. I go to WVWriter's Conference every year and I love meeting all the people with the same hopes and desires. Looks like the bug has bit you, I bet you'll be going to others.

Lizann Flatt said...

Really liked reading your thoughts on this, Terry Lynn. Wish I'd had longer to talk with you, but I did enjoy our lunchtime chat. Thanks for being there and contributing to the day!

Von Allan said...

I find these type of events a smidgen intimidating. I don't find it that easy to walk up to strangers and introduce myself. I realize I'm probably missing out a bit, but it is quite challenging. It doesn't help that I am not a morning person at all and I'll kinda stand around blinking heavily and waiting for coffee to kick in. :)

One thing that struck me, especially with Edward's comments, was just how much of a crap shoot it is. Tastes change and what wasn't fashionable or interesting one year (or one decade) suddenly is. Styles, both in writing, subject matter, and art do come around, too. I think part of the challenge of doing anything creative is just to keep doing it. Never stop fighting.

And thanks for stopping by and commenting over on my own coverage of the Agent's Day Ottawa Conference, too.

Von