’Tis the season, sort of. The shortest month of the year that always seems the longest is halfway done. Seeds ordered in the frigid January darkness have arrived and planting dates are marked on the calendar. What little snow we’ve had is melting into the three-inch tall green shoots around the pond. Pitchers and catchers report in four days (yay!). And I just registered for my first writer’s conference of the year. I know, I’m behind on scheduling, but I’ve never been good at planning too far ahead. If I try, life steps in to remind me how foolish are my best-laid plans.
As anyone who has ever attended one of these events knows, the wealth of possibilities offered to writers of all experience levels is truly astonishing. The sheer number of options, many of them genre-specific, others more broad – or fan – based. Enticing locations all across the country – the prestigious AWP Annual Conference & Bookfair is in Chicago this year, I could stay with my son and save the hotel bill (honest, he said I could!), but it’s in two weeks. I waited too long for that one. Love is Murder is another Chicago event I’ll get to someday. And overseas: Geneva, San Miguel, Surrey…out of my price range, but so intriguing. With a limited budget, I need to stick closer to home for now.
My first outing this year, as it has been for the past two years, will be the Mad Anthony Writers Conference in Hamilton, Ohio. Not particularly exotic, but sponsoring local non-profit group does a terrific job of packing a great deal of information into two days, starting with a Friday session called Murder & Mayhem. What more could a mystery writer ask for? I registered just under the wire to qualify for the early-bird discount and look forward to their expanded three-day schedule in early April. Mad Anthony’s become a tradition for a trio of us from my weekly writers group, gals’ road trip and all, that I know will be a great time.
The always-spectacular Antioch Writers' Workshop in July right here in my new home town of Yellow Springs is on my calendar as well. It’s a week-long event that never fails to overwhelm with the amount of information offered on everything from the finer points of fiction, to poetry, to snagging that elusive book contract.
Conferences and workshops are about so much more than the formal sessions. I often get as much benefit (dare I say more?) from meeting fellow writers and basking in the non-stop craft conversations that fill hallways, dining rooms and sometimes even a local bar. The spirited interaction is a great reminder that, even in the solitary work of writing, we are not alone.
Do you conference? When and where? I need to start planning ahead…