This past weekend I attended the 4th annual Hampton Roads Writers writers’ conference held here in Virginia Beach. It was fabulous! In fact, I talked to several writers who have attended many writing conferences, and they agreed that ours was one of the very best they’ve ever been to. Our writers were Rick Mofina, Alma Katsu, Patricia Hermes, John DeDakis, C.L. Bevill, as well as several local writers. We also had agents in attendance.
I think one of the signs of a great conference is when you can’t make up your mind which break-out sessions you want to attend because they all sound so good, and this was the case this past weekend. If you’ve never been to a writing conference, I urge you to think about attending. Why not come to ours next year? It’s the third weekend in September.
The point of this post, though, is to write about the “Now what?” that inevitably comes out of experiences like this. I’m always so pumped right after a writing conference. They make me want to work harder. They make me want to sit my butt in this chair and get busy on my dream. They renew my writing passion. Last year’s conference led me to take the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge, and I wrote 50,000 words of my novel in November. I never touched it after that. So the “Now what?” for this conference is that I feel emboldened to pick up that very rough draft and complete it and then work on rewriting it. Will I stick with it long enough to finally finish it? One can hope.
The thing that stands out for me about this conference is the image of Rick Mofina, giving his keynote address, and telling all of us that he was shocked when he got the call that we wanted him for our keynote speaker. He is an award-winning novelist with fourteen published books, and he said, “Why would you want me? Who am I?” This humble, well-spoken man from Canada, expressed the insecurities of so many of us writers. Who are we that we would think anybody would want to listen to us? It was refreshing to hear this from such a prolific and well-respected novelist. It made us feel like he was one of us, that he understood how we felt. It gave us hope that we, too, could be successful writers one day, if we are willing to put in the effort and not give up.
This applies to you, too, who are reading this. When someone asks you what you do, be bold and tell them, “I am a writer.” Do not apologize and mumble, “Oh, I write a little blog. I’m not a real writer.” If you blog, you are a writer. A writer is someone who writes. No, not end of story. Just the beginning.