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?