Today is Day One of Write!Canada 2010, a writing conference in Guelph Ontario that runs until Saturday evening. I went last year, and had a great time — I learned a lot, met some great people, and talked to a few authors and editors who had excellent advice concerning the questions I asked.
Last year, I also brought in a one-sheet, business cards, a binder full of work for the display table… it was my first writing conference, and I wanted to be prepared.
This year, I’m going in a little differently. I’ll bring the business cards left over from last year, but I’m leaving the one-sheet and the binder at home. They advertise my web content writing, something which I’m not actively seeking out more contracts for (I’m just taking the work that carries over from my husband’s business).
I also don’t have any meetings scheduled with the authors/editors/agents who are going to be there. Last year there was space for me to sign up when I arrived, which I did at the urging of other attendees who’d been there before. I got some great advice, but I had really specific questions to ask.
This year, no questions immediately spring to mind, and though I had time to schedule meetings beforehand, I didn’t. Is that a waste of resources? I’m not sure. I don’t think any of the agents there are particularly interested in what I write — I believe they all represent clients who write CBA fiction/non-fiction, with perhaps one or two exceptions, and even those exceptions don’t take my kind of work.
I’ve heard people say “just make an appointment and use it as a practice pitch run!” to which I say, isn’t that just wasting the agent’s time? What if someone has a book to pitch that might seriously fit the agent/editor’s list, and I’ve filled the spot with my “rehearsal” pitch?
So this year, I’m going in without anything ready. I don’t even have an elevator pitch to stand on (which is bad, I know) but most people here are writing CBA stuff. I know I’ll learn TONS from the workshops and plenaries, but in the end, this is going to be a learning conference and not a ‘doing’ conference. I realized too late that perhaps I should have signed up for the RWA conference instead… since there’ll be lots of people there writing in my genre(s)… but I think that’s what I’ll do next year.
Write!Canada has a lot to offer, and I hope to share some of what I’ve learned on the blog over the next few weeks. But ultimately, I plan to take it easy and just absorb & learn from others. Maybe that’s crazy — maybe I should be running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get ready to pitch or creating synopses, or whatever — but I’m trying to take the path of least stress this year.
Next year? I can go nuts.
How do you approach writing conferences? Have you ever been to one, and if you have, did you take advantage of all the appointments/meetings/critiques available, or did you allow yourself some breathing room?