Someone recently asked me, “What's the point of writers' conferences?” The value of these gatherings is, to me, so self-evident that I had to wonder if there was some hidden meaning in the question. I think it was genuine. The person could see that doctors would benefit from meetings to keep up-to-date with new medicines and treatments. And that accountants had to be aware of new legislation. But writers? Why would they need a convention?
I will explain my love of writers' festivals. It's more than the workshops, and I've attended some gems. It's beyond the networking opportunities or the industry expertise.
Probably the biggest draw card is that we writers get to crawl out of our lairs and interact with other people. It's a solitary gig, this writing thing, which is fine for the introverts amongst us–harder for the extroverts.
Literary gatherings have a cool vibe about them. They are smart and witty and polished. The atmosphere crackles with creativity and ambition.
A way with words unites a hodgepodge of people. Young, old and in-between bring their strengths and experiences. Creative types are welcomed. Oddballs, recluses, and hermits mix with hipsters, swashbucklers, and Jane Does. It's gloriously refreshing to see that writers come in all shapes, sizes, temperaments, and ages.
When those lofty celebrity writers tell of the long, lonely road prior to their success, it sounds a lot like the road we know very well. A glimpse of the Promised Land of publication falls into focus, even if only briefly. We listen to their stories, breathing in their pixie dust, and leave ready to try to fly…