Justifying a Writing Conference

English: The Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod C...

English: The Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal, with the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge in the background. The bridges are located near the town of Bourne in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. These are two of the three bridges over the Cape Cod Canal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every month a copy of the latest issue of “Writer’s Digest” arrives in my mailbox, and every month I flip through the advertisements for writing conferences. Most are held several states away, or in New York City where I’d have to pay an arm and a leg for a hotel room. I’ve seen a few here in New England, Maine, Vermont, and Boston, but I couldn’t afford the fees plus the hotel room and the gas to get there.

Attending a writing conference has always been a goal of mine, though I’ve never given much thought to actually getting to one. Sure, I’ve drooled over the thought of seeing Anne Rice and Lee Child at Thriller Fest or meeting all the agents at the Writer’s Digest Conference. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with all those people who share my passion for writing and may even be able to help me with my own?

Up until a few weeks ago, I never thought of myself as a real writer. I certainly type out plenty of words on my keyboard, and I have plenty of half-finished stories scattered across my computer and the house. But getting anything published seemed impossible. There are so many talented writers out in the world that are competing to be published. Deep down inside of me, I doubted that my writing was good enough to compete.

Then I took an online writing course a few months ago. The assignment for the first class was to write a short description of our favorite place, and I posted mine in the discussion section for feedback from the teacher and the rest of the class. While I wasn’t surprised–unfortunately–about the lack of real criticism from my classmates, the teacher stunned me. She told me that I should submit the piece for publication. She thought it was good enough to be seen printed inside a travel magazine.

That floored me. A professional writer, one who had numerous books and articles in print, thought my work was good. She thought it should be published.

A switch flicked on inside my skull. Maybe my writing in fact is worthy of being published. Maybe I should start taking my writing more seriously, think of it as a career rather than a hobby I pick up whenever inspiration strikes.
Just the other day, I was flipping through the latest “Writer’s Digest,” and I scanned the list of writing conferences as I always do. Part of me hoped to spot one in Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts. The third entry was for the Cape Cod Writer’s Conference, less than an hour drive from me. It would be happening later in the summer, so I had plenty of time to sign up.

I’ve agonized over the decision of whether or not to go. The classes plus the registration fee will total just over $300. While I haven’t officially registered, I’m talking myself into going. This could be a huge opportunity for me. I’ll get to meet lots of other local writers, sit in on classes taught by published authors, and even get to explore part of the Cape I’ve never seen. I feel excited and nervous. I want to attend. I have to attend. This is about being a serious writer who will be published. It’s about following my dream.

Have you attended any writing conferences? What was your experience like?

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