Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Preparing for a Writers Conference

I have received in my inbox several links to articles about how to prepare for a conference. Each of them says that you should try to stand out (one fellow said he always wears orange sneakers, and for that people always remember him )-- but don’t be pushy.

We’re told that if you have a product (and we writers are all about our product), you should not go with the primary intention of selling, selling, selling that product because people “will smell your fear from a mile away.”

I know about conferences from several different angles. I’ve been to several as an attendee. The first time I went to a conference some years ago held by my literary agent with whom I’d corresponded for years, I walked into a roomful of people I’d never met in real life. (My agent told me when she had dispatched someone to pick me up at the airport, she realized she had no idea what I looked like.) For my part, I was so nervous I nearly turned around and went back to my hotel room.

Then there was the time I planned and produced a Christian writer’s conference here in my hometown. Preparing for that conference involved fear, too – fear that no one would come (but they did), fear that I wouldn’t be able to collect enough registration fees to pay the speaker who had driven from out of state to give the keynote (but there was enough), fear that it wouldn’t be useful or encouraging to people (but they said it was.)

Now I’m preparing for a writer’s conference in a different role, as the keynote speaker at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference.

The illustrious Guild – a “spiritually minded group of West Michigan authors. . . dedicated to equipping self and others to live out the call to write,” are probably feeling the conference planner’s fears I know so well.

How am I preparing? I’ve been collecting notes for over a year. I think about it all the time. 

I feel the weight of people’s expectations of me, but I have no expectations of anyone. In fact, I am very much at ease about who will be at the conference, because I have been praying for months and months that God would bring just the right people, with just the set of needs that that He, and He alone, will enable me to meet. 

If you were going to a Christian writer's conference, one that emphasized the spiritual aspect of writing, how would you prepare? 


Henrietta Frankensee said...

Funny you should mention this. I am going to my very first conference at the end of this month. The Inscribe Conference in Wetaskiwin Alberta. My new critique partner is bringing me, quite literally. Without her I would not have the gumption. And I am not able to drive myself that far.
I am preparing my heart first so I can say I am a Christian. I love God and depend on His direction.
One of the speakers assured me I will not be inundated by agents, publishers etc. This makes it much easier to go. I am not preparing to sell. I am working on Bonnie's assignment of synopsis but not especially for the conference.
If something happens to further the publication of my story it will be a God thing. I believe in my story and I know something will happen to further the craft with which I display it. That is enough for me until God moves.
My final preparation will be to find a place to stay at night. I should have done this earlier... I have a fear of sleeping on the streets of Wetaskiwin!

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Latayne, speaking as a member of the planning committee for Breathe, we couldn't be more excited to have you! I get all giddy when I think about have TWO Novel Matters ladies in one place!

I'm also presenting at Breathe. My desire is that I'll be able to encourage other writers. To show them the ministry that writing of all types can be. I'm preparing but praying that my heart and my motivation is right. It's so easy to let ego get in the way. I'm trying to let go of that ego...which is so difficult at times.

In 9 days I'm heading off to ACFW. That one has me trembling. I'm preparing for that one by remembering that the weekend in Indy isn't the end all, be all of my career. And working to make my "one sheet" look classy.

Latayne C Scott said...

That pleases me so much, Henrietta and Susie, that you recognize that preparing for a conference, in which you will be seeking to hone your skills as a Christian writer, means a different kind of mindset. Sure, we want to be effective but not annoying, memorable but not notorious. But what we really should prepare to receive is a blessing from God.

Cherry Odelberg said...

How would I prepare to attend a spiritual conference? I would probably be frantic and frenzied trying to get everything done, out the door, arrive on time frazzled, slump into a seat and think, "thank God, I am here. Now I can relax and breathe."

Break a leg, Latayne!

Latayne C Scott said...

Cherry, that's me, too!

Amelia Rhodes said...

Latayne, we are so thrilled that you are coming to Breathe! Whenever I go to a conference, either attending or speaking, I always ask God to help me love the people there and pour myself out to encourage and give. It's such a joy to meet with other writers, especially when you know that you're writing not to promote yourselves, but promote the message of God's love. Looking forward to seeing you next month!

Latayne C. Scott said...

I'm counting the days, Amelia!

Kathleen Popa said...

Henrietta, I hope your first conference is wonderful, as so many have been for me.

Latayne, I first met you at that conference you almost walked out on. I was so incredibly impressed with you, and I didn't know the half.

Henrietta, if you end up sleeping on the streets, be sure to take notes.