S and I went for a Night Walk around the park with Basil this evening. These are the best kinds of walks because there’s almost no one else there, the air is comfortable in summertime, you don’t have to put on sunscreen, and all of the squirrels (aka poodle bait) are asleep.
About halfway around, near one of the lakes, S and I started discussing writing conferences. I’ve never been to one. The idea of going fills me with excitement and DREAD (which might be WHY I’ve never been to one). Anyway, this week I learned that the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference will be right here IN Denver in September. I checked into it, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it turns out a LOT of interesting, important people have signed up to be part of this conference.
The only problem is…I have no one to go WITH. Okay I’ll just come out and admit it, I am ~fantastically~ codependent. I can do ANYTHING if someone holds my hand. But by myself…I BECOME wallpaper. And not even the delicious Willy Wonka kind. More like the I-WISH-I-could-talk-to-someone-I’m-going-INSANE Yellow Wallpaper. Heh. I blame my mother.
Trying to be supportive as usual, S asked me what the advantage of networking at a conference would be vs the old-fashioned query letter. So I searched my memory banks and recalled this post by Janet Reid, and told him that basically, conferences were like a chance to deliver a verbal pitch and prove in person that you are not a yahoo.
To which he responded: “And with that in mind, WHY do you think a conference would be AT ALL the right choice for YOU?”
Heh. S has known me a long time. In fact, he was in the room with me for my very FIRST real job interview. I was seventeen. We were both interviewing to work as “turndown staff” (aka we make the bed and put a chocolate on the pillow) at a high-end golf club for the summer. The woman interviewed us together to save time. S went first, chatting with the lady – we’ll call her J – and answering her questions. Then it was my turn. Typical, easy job interview, right?
J: “So Emily, everything on your application looks good. Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
J: “Uhm…you know, do you have any hobbies? Things you like to do?”
Me: (O_O) *panicked glance at S*
J: (really trying hard here, poor woman) “Maybe you like to play sports…go skiing…perhaps something? Anything?”
Me: (thinking nothing she’d listed sounded appealing) “No…I don’t like to do anything.”
Me: “No.” (O_O)
Um, so chasing down the point of this blog entry…perhaps conferences are NOT for everyone. I doubt the above exchange would WOW any agents or editors (in a good way) if they took the place of J. But okay yes, I have never been to a conference, so I WILL give it a try – to make sure. Because despite S’s kind intentions to keep me from embarrassing myself again…I’m a different person (thank goodness!) than I was at seventeen. I’ll never know for sure if I can do better than that at a conference unless I suck it up and just GO to one.
Incidentally — maybe somewhat because S was there cheering me on in the background, I DID miraculously get hired for the turndown job. LOL. So maybe I just need to hold out for a conference I can go to – not so conveniently close to home – with my amazing YA writing friends who cheer me on every day. Can anyone say…SCBWI Winter 2010? I know, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to fly 2,000 miles and spend TONS more money just for some cheerleaders to pull you off the wall… But neither does putting a ridiculous piece of chocolate on someone’s pillow every night, does it?