Tuesday, April 20, 2010

[LDS Storymakers] Conference Weekend

Yesterday my sister asked if I was getting excited for my planned weekend to the LDS Storymakers Conference. "I'm getting nervous" was my reply and I launched into the varied reasons why writers conferences are so different than other seemingly similar venues.

Most conferences you attend, you choose your classes, sit in anonymity in each one scribbling notes on pads of paper, and then go away having gleaned copious amounts of information.

There's a whole other side to a writers conference.

There's the networking, the connections to be made (okay, that's redundant), the "see and be seen" factor (okay, kind of redundant, again). Generally we all have a finished work or work in progress that we want to "be seen," and, of course, we want to "see" all those writers who have crossed the line into the magical world of being called authors.

This is why I am nervous.

I will see authors.

People who have published actual books.

Fortunately, name tags will be employed, but still, if I come face to face with one (of them) don't I need to be able to match the name with their published work so as not to appear totally off the literary/Amazon/DB planet? I should have been cramming the entire last week with flash cards--okay, James Dashner-The Maze Runner-MC:Thomas, Josi Kilpack-Devil's Food Cake-MC:Sadie, Heather Moore-Alma-MC:Alma, Joyce DiPastena-Illuminations of the Heart-MC:Suri...oh, wait I know her! Whew! And bonus, I have actually read her book.

[Note to self: Stand near Joyce as much as she'll allow.]

In addition to authors, there will be a myriad of people there who I know only through their blog or through our online writing associations. So, see, I know their names and quite a bit about them, but have never spoken face to face. How do I approach them? "Oh, my gosh, it's you "Queen of the Clan" blogger ...um...um... thanks for that comment you left on my blog last February...um..." Of course, half the bloggers are also authors, so I need to remember their blog and published work.

Again, thank goodness for name tags because (and I'm not referring to anyone real or fictional) there's often a "lost in translation" moment when you go from knowing someone just by their little bloggy photo and then meeting them in person.

Just saying.

So that's the "see" aspect of writer's conferences.

Now as far as being seen and your work being seen, that ups the nervousness factor considerably.

There will be editors in attendance.

Actual people who make decisions about whether writers cross the line into the magical world of being called authors.

I daresay I don't need to elaborate, except to say if you come face to face with one (of them) WHAT WILL YOU SAY? It must be something half way intelligent and if it could be half way intelligent about your own manuscript, then all the better. You've gotta have a well-rehearsed pitch--one that's short and non-rambling. [See elanajohnson.blogspot.com today for her post on this very subject.] Even if you don't get to talk to an editor (or don't force yourself upon an editor) a thousand other people will ask you about your novel just in casual conversation.

Must. Be. Prepared.

By now you are beginning to wonder--why subject ourselves to the frenzy that is LDS Storymakers?

Because it's the most fun frenzy ever!

Imagine an entire Grand Ballroom of crazy people who get it.

They get writing and writers.

And anything anyone says about writing, no matter what it is, you have a whole ballroom-sized group of people nodding like bobble-heads in agreement. And because it's sponsored by a group with "LDS" as their first name, you also have a ballroom of people who are kind and so amazingly supportive of each other [and have standards] and can become your friends and critique partners and help you navigate your road to publication.

And if that's not all enough, then there is the choosing of classes, sitting and scribbling notes on pads of paper, and coming away with copious amounts of information.

I love that part.

12 comments:

Daron D. Fraley said...

Awesomely fun post, Valerie.

You make sure you say HI at the conference!

Kim Coates said...

I can TOTALLY relate to this WHOLE post. It seriously made me laugh, and begin to panic all over again. I know exactly what you mean about meeting people, whether they be published authors or not, and needing to connect their name to their book/blog/whatever.

SO MUCH PRESSURE!

But I am so excited about it.

Completely unprepared, but totally excited non the less!

Kaylie said...

I'm not going to LDS this year, but I'll be attending WIFYR, so I guess I'd better get prepared! It's one thing to write. Words on paper? I can do that? But talking? Out loud? That's another skill altogether.

Joan Sowards said...

I'm looking forward to Storymakers. Thank goodness for nametags! I haven't studied like you have, so I'm sure I'll be asking dumb questions. Sigh.

I'll see you there!

Valerie Ipson said...

Kaylie, you bring up an excellent point. We're writers! Why do we have to talk to each other--we can just write notes back and forth.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Valerie -

I remember my first two conferences when I felt EXACTLY the same way. It was so nerve-wracking! One one side I was so excited to go and learn - and on the other side I was so intimidated about meeting the authors I loved and looked up to that I just wanted to puke. Yep. I can relate.

So - here's a tip: When you meet someone (no matter if you've read their books, blogs, or nothing they've ever written), you just say "Hello, I'm Valerie." Brilliant, eh? You can even follow up with something like, "I really love how the color of that shirt makes your eyes stand out."

OK - so that's a comment I love (well, and James Dashner likes it, too), but the point is that authors are all just normal people and really like it when others try to connect with them as a regular "joe" rather than some person up on a pedestal. Does that make sense?

And me? I'm just totally flattered you think I'm cool enough to get tongue tied around. You're awesome! =)

I can't wait to meet you at conference. Until then, stock up on some chocolate to settle those nerves - I know I am!

Rebecca Talley said...

Love this post!! I feel the same way. What if no one attends the class that I'm teaching and I just hear crickets chirping? And, a signing? Who would want me to sign a book? What if no one buys my books at the bookstore? Wrose, what if someone comes up and tells me my book was the worst one she ever read? What if I trip and fall? Look dorky? Have food on my face or between my teeth? And, what if I see an editor or agent and say something totally lame? Yep, nervous, anxious, and totally excited at the same time!!

One Cluttered Brain said...

You will have a BLAST! This is only my second year and I plan on making it better than ever. Yes, that means taking my camera and actually taking pictures instead of being too nervous to take pictures. i feel much MORE confident this year than last year. Probably because I know somewhat to expect!!
Hope I get to meet you! You sound like a fun blogger/writer/author someday!!! (Unless you are a published author then, CONGRATS!)

Tamara said...

Okay, I am now looking forward to being a bobble head in the grand ballroom. Love this post, although I've been trying very hard not to get nervous. Looks like I better start matching profile pics with published works, and pray I don't get them mixed up!!

Cathy Witbeck said...

We also get away from dishes and laundry for a few days. It's like a mini vacation. Wuhoo. Just being a writer for a few days instead of a writer/ taxi driver/ short order cook/ laundress etc. etc. etc. is so very nice.

Elana Johnson said...

Dude, it is going to be awesome! I hope I see you so I can come over and gush to you. :) :) :)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great post! I'm excited to meet you. And don't worry so much, just enjoy the moment. :)

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