PNWA 2013: I Call It a Conference Hangover

Image courtesy FotoliaWriters’ conferences are awesome. Writers’ conferences are brutal. And while all conferences tend to toss a grueling schedule at you, it’s ones geared toward the writerly souls that leave you in an absolute puddle at the end. I think the reason is because we bring our ambitious aspirations with us when we attend. We’re there to learn, yes. We’re there to fraternize with other writerly souls, yes. But the biggie is that many of us are there because we have a dream of being published.

We flit around at these conferences for three or four days with that dream on the tips of our tongues and surface of our skin. It’s visible in our shiny eyes. It’s especially visible right before the agent and editor pitch sessions, when the waiting area resembles an American Idol audition (and afterward, when the waiting area still sort of resembles an American Idol audition, but less screaming and tears). And then, when the conference is over, you’d think you’d been at the Cabo Wabo Cantina drinking tequila for 72 hours (I have never actually been to the Cabo Wabo, but I always imagine that the patrons there must get exceptionally drunk).

Agent Introductions at PNWA 2013This year’s Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association (PNWA) Summer Conference was my second (for last year’s more practical post on things I learned, click here). The presenters were tops, again, and the key note speakers both inspirational and wickedly funny. I pitched the same manuscript as last year (it wasn’t ready to send out to agents after last year’s… and it’s still not quite ready, but dang it, I will get it pretty and polished if it kills me) and received seven more requests for materials that I’ll add to my stash of business cards from 2012. And bonus of all bonuses, I was able to meet a long-time online friend from Idaho, Jeri Walker-Bickett, and her friend Carmen, live and in person (and then nod knowingly as I watched the gradual onset of their conference exhaustion).

Finally, I’ve got to mention one of the best things about these writers conferences: the camaraderie. There were even comments made from the podium on the generally astounding level of friendship and support that the attendees extend to one another as we all ride the publishing roller-coaster together. I think this is SO important, not just in writing, but in life. The universe is big enough for all of us, we will all find our way and it doesn’t need to be at the expense of another. It’s much more fun to help other people, to give of yourself at the same time that you seek your own success.

CalligraphyI’ll leave you with a favorite Chinese proverb, one that says it perfectly:

“If there is light in the soul,
there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.”

Namaste, my friends. I still need to sleep off the rest of my conference DTs. Let me know how your week is going! 


    • Laura Zera says

      At the start of my hopefully-wonderful day, I read your comment and well up! Thank you, Jo-Anne. And when I say that the feeling is mutual, I’m not just sayin’ it. Huge hugs back to you.

    • Laura Zera says

      Hello, Jo! Boy, I’ve been thinking about you a bunch for a few weeks, wondering how you’re doing and what’s new. Glad to “see” you, your ears must have been burning (or palm was itchy or whatever that old tale is… or is that only when people are talking about you and you’re going to receive money… ?!?).

    • Laura Zera says

      Thanks, Molly! Oh, you really should think about coming up for it. Even if you have no desire to seek traditional publishing, the workshops are great. I learned a ton (which, of course, has thrown me into another spin cycle of revisions). And it’s just such an eye-opening experience into the whole world of publishing.

  1. says

    This feeling is definitely akin to a conference hangover. I’m so glad I picked PNWA as my first writer’s conference, and I’ll definitely be returning next year. It was so good to finally meet you, and I know Carmen feels the same. The conference certainly helped put many things in perspective, and now I’m more motivated than ever to finish revising my book!
    Jeri recently posted…On My Mind: Moving Cross Country (Again)My Profile

    • Laura Zera says

      Hey you, I’m glad to have been there as you attended your first writers conference! Next time we need to build in an extra day just to eat and drink wine, hey? Let’s keep each other motivated while we go through the revision cycle. We will get to the end, though. We will!

    • Laura Zera says

      Hey, I’m sticking to what I was told, and that’s that agent’s request for materials never expire. As long as you put “Materials Requested, XYZ Conference, Fall 2011″ or whatever in the email subject line, you’re still good to send it to them, even if it’s been a while. I haven’t sent to any of my 2012 requests yet, but definitely still plan to do so!!

      I remember you went to a San Fran conference, right? Which one do you think you’ll go to next?


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