The South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference has become a yearly ritual for me. I stumbled upon the website three years ago and saw three very enticing elements: Great faculty, a respectable price, and oh yeah-an oceanfront resort to host the event.
Beach. Waves. Sand. I was sold.
My first year was wonderful. I learned much. My second year was even better. Not only did I attend classes, but I was invited to volunteer. I found myself with a front row seat to the agent and editor critique sessions, able to listen and watch how it all works. I found that quite a beneficial fringe benefit.
On top of that, in my own critique, my manuscript was received very well by the agent I signed up with. While I made a personal decision to maintain the small-press path, the validation and invaluable advice really helped my novel, which will be published this coming January. (I have the agent's business card framed and sitting on a shelf in my living room. True story.)
This year, it got even better: I was invited to attend as a faculty member.
I accepted. The introvert screamed, "NO!", but the writer whispered, "Shut up, you pansy. You really need to say yes. This is a good thing to add to your writing resume."
I don't want to turn this into a dry synopsis of what I learned and who I rubbed elbows with...though I do want to point out that, year after year, the SCWW gathers an incredible group of publishing professionals to share their insights and passions.
That is the key thing I've noticed that sets this conference apart: Passion. You don't find yourself sitting through a boring lecture about the current publishing climate. You find agents and editors who always offer an interesting discussion regarding a particular aspect of the writing business. The process, the marketing. How to make your first chapter shine. How to catch their eye. What you need to bring to your manuscript, not just to make a sale, but to create the best story you can possibly craft.
At the SCWW, you can actually forget you are surrounded by people who could theoretically make or break your career. You're surrounded by fellow book lovers.
What an awesome feeling. I'm already crossing my fingers and toes that I can attend the 2013 conference.
Thank you to everyone who works so hard to bring such a fabulous conference together. Ginny, Kia, and all the board members, volunteers, and faculty outdo themselves every year without fail. And, specially, thanks to Mike Long and Fred Fields for bringing so much great information and experience to our Friday Morning Intensive panel discussion. I was very fortunate to be teamed with them.
Also, thank you to those who bought Drew and asked for autographs. I felt like Madonna after that. You know, minus the pointy bra and inexplicable British accent....