On my four-hour drive home from the OWFI Writers' Conference in Oklahoma City this weekend, I had plenty of time to reflect. The common thread through all of my thoughts was how good I always feel after attending a writers' conference.
Probably the first good feeling that comes with attending a conference is motivation. When I see the list of contest categories, my mind often races with story ideas. Add my competitive spirit and a deadline to that, and you have one motivated writer!
Meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones is another treasure of these conferences. I think all of us writers know we are a different sort, sometimes quiet, maybe a little introverted. Certainly we all live in our own imaginary worlds much of the time. But put a bunch of us together, and we open up and share to our hearts' content, as though "we were lost, but now we're found!"
But, I think it's the wealth of information shared by other writers that leaves me with the best feeling, long after the conference is over. I never cease to be awed by writers who continue to share knowledge in a variety of areas -- technique, marketing, motivation -- with anyone who asks, all for the simple reward of helping a new writer succeed. When you think about it, in this sometimes ruthless and competitive world, that really is amazing.
The conference was filled with such sharing writers, who brought a variety of up-to-date information to an audience hungry to learn. It not only inspired me to write, it gave me the confidence to go beyond my writing, to the necessary next step of marketing. (Oooh, not something that comes naturally to most writers!) And the biggest surprise was that I daydreamed about one day being one of those presenters who might share some valuable information with other writers.
On a personal note, Dusty Richards and Velda Brotherton, founders of our writing critique group, are two people who consistently help me (and countless others) with improving our writing skills, as well as keeping us motivated. They have set the example for all of us writers to help other writers -- to pass it on. As friends and mentors, they definitely have the "write stuff!"