I love cyberspace and the ability to do business easily. But for writers, there’s no place like home (s) we visit annually, come hell or high water: writers conferences. Why go? Conferences offer avenues into the community of writers. The same folks who will help you when your book is published are the folks whose cards and emails you should be collecting every time you attend one. This is just one reason to go.

I’m lucky. I workshop at conferences so I get to go free and sometimes, I’m even paid.

But if I wasn’t, I still would be attending one or more each year, as I did for many years before I became a workshop leader. I’d stop myself from buying shoes I love but don’t need. If going to a conference meant rationing my Starbucks fixes, I gladly would reduce my caffeine intake to attend one conference per year. That’s how important they are to this writer’s life.

The Southern California Writers Conference is revving up for its annual fall SCWC held in Newport Beach. I will be there teaching a workshop or two and grateful for the opportunity. At SCWC’s 2013 winter conference, we listened to best selling author (and Ray Bradbury protege) David Brin offer his take on the digital age; a video soundbite I captured and added to my site. In just a few words, Brin sums up his concern with digital publishing: lack of quality control. This kind of valuable perspective offered by ‘our elders’ in the business (whether chronically older or not) at writers conferences is one more reason to go. Established, successful authors deliver advice specifically aimed at the audience there to hear them speak specifically about the art form, the craft and the business of writing. Those who have put time into this craft, enough to be rewarded handsomely by traditional publishing, have lots to offer us writers traveling along our own publishing paths.

Another reason to go: understanding just how difficult it is to write compelling prose. In today’s indie publishing movement, some writers are in too big of a hurry to see their names on book jackets. When I hear an indie writer say it took one year to write the novel s/he just published, I pretty much know the novel’s not going to hook me.

Novels need time to brew, steep, ferment. Novels need rewriting, many rewrites. Novels need readers, many readers willing to tell the writer what their mothers won’t-go back to your writing place because this version sucks. Listen to Perks of Being A Wallflower author/screenwriter/director  Stephen Chbosky discuss the process of writing this bestselling novel with editor Marianne Dougherty at 2013 SBWC. Writers need to hear just how hard this craft is to master and we need to hear this from the masters of our craft.

I’ve often heard the best among us say how much they love speaking to writers at conferences.  Why? We get them and they get us. Listen to David Brin and Stephen Chbosky’s tone as they address a room filled with writers. They are specific because they know we understand their language. You won’t hear noted authors speak with this specificity to the general public. Another reason to save up your money and go.

No matter how many webinars I participate in or how many online TV/radio shows I host, there’s no place like a writer’s conference for this writer to feel right at home.

SCWC commences on Sept 20-22 in Newport Beach, Ca. Early Bird discounts are available and feel free to mention MarlaMiller.com when you register.

It can’t hurt.  


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