This past weekend I had the privilege of teaching two classes at the Roanoke Texas Writers Conference. I tasted once again the enthusiasm of writers eager to learn, to share their own experiences and to help each other.
I was reminded once again of the communities we writers form—communities as diverse as the people in them. From our local critique groups to our network of social media friends and contacts. Some of us are members of national organizations such as American Christian Fiction Writers or Word Weavers. There are many others, too many to mention here, for writers of children’s books, Westerns, mysteries, romance, and science fiction and fantasy.
Conferences like Roanoke are those unique opportunities for our diversities to come together under one umbrella. We can build relationships and networks with other writers. We can step out of the comfort zone of our local writing communities to meet fellow authors with different perspectives and needs. Some may be experienced, even published. Others are new to the writing world.
Conferences are places to learn the craft as well as to learn from each other the nuances of different genres, about people across the political and the genre spectrums.
At conferences, we learn in the formal classes. We also learn from each other during those times when we can visit and get to know each other. We form relationships that continue after the conference, relationships where we encourage one another in our journeys, relationships where we commiserate with each other. I’m still in touch with people I met at the first conferences I attended over ten years ago.
Over the years conferences become like family reunions.
I have to admit there have been times when I was jaded with the conference scene and stayed home. That’s changed this year as God has been working with me about my writing future. Part of that work includes attending more conferences and trusting him to tell me which ones. So this year I spoke at one conference and attended two others as a learner. All three blessed me with refreshed insights into my writing journey, with both new and renewed relationships, and with valuable ideas and thinking about my writing career.
What have conferences meant to you?