Monday, June 18, 2007

Fringe Benefits of a Conference

You don’t even have to attend a conference to be inspired. Sure, going to one, attending the workshops, meeting other authors, networking with agents and editors – all that can rev up your writing juices. But sometimes, just walking into a conference makes you smile and want to get down to writing.

I sort of felt that way this past weekend. I didn’t attend the Writers’ League of Texas conference, but twice I went into the hotel looking for the agents and editors I was supposed to ferry to the airport.

On Saturday I was supposed to pick up an editor, Josh Kendall, but no one was sure where he was. So, I went upstairs to where the private consultations were going on to see if he was involved in those. He wasn’t, but I got to see people I knew, volunteers helping with the one-on-ones. Got to hug friends and talk to some I hadn’t seen in a while. That’s always a boost, to see other writers. Plus, I stepped into the exhibitors room and said “hi” to people there. (Turns out a former board member had taken Kendall out to lunch, but he showed up after a while and we headed to the airport.)

On Sunday, I was scheduled to pick up three people to take to the airport. One was a no show. I’m guessing she got a ride with someone since she had already checked out and no one answered in her room. A second hitched a ride with another group. It turned out nice, though, since Scott Treimel and I had lots of time to chat on the way to the airport. But one thing I noticed as I first walked into the hotel was the atmosphere. It’s always present at a conference. Even though this one was almost over, there were still people sitting on couches, talking and watching the traffic flow (keeping their eyes open for a wandering agent).

The excitement of a good conference is almost like static electricity. You can feel the charge as you walk by.

Incidentally, one good way to find out what an agent is currently looking for is to check out the site of a conference they’re attending. If you’re the one organizing the conference, usually when you invite an agent, you ask them for a brief bio about themselves or their agency and what they’re currently reading. A lot of conferences will put that information up on their site so that prospective attendees can judge whether they want to meet any of the agents and editors. But even if you’re not attending, it’s a way for you to find out the most up-to-date interests of the agents. The WLT conference is over, but as of today, the agent and editor information is still up there. So check it out, if you’re looking for an agent. And do that for other conferences as well.

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