Once again I hear the sirens warming up their vocal chords preparing to lure me back to my writers paradise on St. Simmons Island. The annual Southeastern Writers Association conference at Epworth by the Sea is just a couple of months away and preparations are well under way. Soon I will be going back home, my writing home.
In February of 2012 a friend of mine told me about a local writers association. She couldn’t quite remember the name of it, her daughter had only joined it a few months back. So I Googled: “writers association”. Southeastern Writers Association was one of the many link results. Perusing their website I came upon the SWA annual writers conference in Georgia. Once again Google was my friend as I mapped out the exact location. Only an hour and change drive from my house! I could do that; I could commute even. Yeah, no.
While the cost of the conference itself was more than reasonable for the amount of knowledge I was sure to gain from the caliber of instructors listed, the hotel stay added in naturally scared my little piggy bank. Through much encouragement from the peanut gallery, otherwise known as my better half, I booked the hotel stay along with the conference.
What an experience! The unfortunate part of the campus at Epworth is that there is not very good cell reception, particularly in the rooms, at least not for the carrier that offers quick-as-a-turtle Internet service as well. Oh wait, is that unfortunate? Really? Well, it is for those back home who want to hear from you, make sure you arrived safe, make sure you eat your vegetables, make sure you packed clean underwear. But, the lack of reception also helps you to stay connected to your muse. The one who longs for a good stretch and the nourishing rejuvenation that comes from being among fellow scribes for nearly a whole week undisturbed by the outside world on the enchanting campus by the sea that is Epworth.
At Epworth, I drank in the sleepy down home southern surroundings and took meals amongst the novice and professional writer alike. Some were first timers like me, and others had been coming to these annual conferences for years. Never was there a time during that week that I felt intimidated or that I my writing wasn’t good enough. Everyone was so encouraging and all writing pieces were celebrated.
Naturally I had to return last year. It was truly like a homecoming. Many of the writers I had met the year before were once again in attendance and I quickly fell back in with good old friends while making new ones. My creative juices flowed as I attended well thought out and information packed sessions all geared toward helping me (okay, the other attendees as well) become a better writer.
Attending those two conferences bolstered my confidence and desire to hone my craft further, to seek other venues where I could learn to improve my skill. This past fall I attended another conference, this one within my own state. As before I contemplated that since it was just a three-day conference and not more than an hour and a half drive from my house that surely I could commute each day. Nothing doing. Before I could say, “Bob’s your uncle” my room was booked and conference registration fee paid. My inner skinflint was bound, gagged, and placed in a large trunk in the darkest corner of the basement until the transaction was complete.
At this conference I gained a new insight into that dreaded inner critique. I learned how to put her in a deep dark corner as my muse and I tripped the light fantastic and churned out amazing tales of travel and toilets abroad for all to read. The most valuable thing I can do is to keep writing, and sometimes the 200-pound Acme anvil falls on someone else’s head instead. Again, not a moment felt wasted and all in attendance gained nothing but good will and positive energy.
For the uninitiated, attending writing conferences could very well be the greatest first step towards your writing career. Don’t go and be a wallflower, though. Interact, participate, and before too long you too just might be finding yourself wanting to book the reservation for the next muse-filled writing getaway.
Dawn is a teacher by profession but a writer by passion. Her sarcastic wit, innocent charm, and insightful reflections will have you bowled over with laughter as she ponders with you the little things in life that make you go hhhmmmm. Learn more about Dawn on her website: www.makergoddess.wordpress.com