Writing conferences for the cheap and unpublished

I’m leaving town for a writer’s conference tomorrow, so posting here will be spotty until next week. I can tell you all about the conference in specifics when I get back, but for now I can tell why I’m going and why you should consider looking into them.

I’ve been to this conference once before. It’s…fine. It’s not the best writer’s conference in the world. It is staffed primarily by Indiana writers of a certain success level. Notice I said “writers.” There is not a huge distinction at this conference between writer/novelist, writer/author. Some of their courses are focused on the business of writing, as in taxes, hustling for jobs. Some of the repeating faculty—members of the organization that hosts the conference—are best known for what I would consider free-lance or corporate writing. Textbook authors, magazine writers, etc. And there are a lot of people attending who are in the same boat as I am (writer, published a little) or in a bigger, slower boat (writer, mostly unpublished so far). I’m trying to be honest about who these writers are without sounding judgmental, because, hey, some of these folks are writing for a living. That’s not a small thing to accomplish.

But I’m going for free, and that price goes a long way toward getting me off the couch and headed that way. I get to see some friends while I’m there. A plus. And also? It’s a conference. Conferences are expensive and often far away. Hotel costs. Meals. Airplane rides. It adds up. I applied to go to this one on scholarship because it’s in Indiana. I can drive to Indiana. One night in a hotel, a couple of cheap meals. This I can handle, and I get a line on my vitae.

A conference is good for three things. You get a line on your academic resume. It’s good for meeting people. It’s good for keeping your head in the game. The best way to spend the time I’ll be at the conference would be to be writing. I know that. But for those of us hoping for a teaching gig someday, it’s always a good idea to look for ways to build your resume. And no matter what kind of writer you are and what you hope to do for a living someday, you like to meet other writers when you get the chance, right? And being around other writers is the best way I’ve found (other than actually writing) to keep focused.

Someday, truly, I would like to offer something back to this conference. They’ve allowed me to attend twice on their dime, and a couple of years ago they had me as one of nine fellows to a two-day retreat in northern Indiana. They’ve been extraordinarily good to me. I owe them.

For now, though, I’m still siphoning off their generosity. Off I go. If you guys think of questions you have about conferences or that there scholarship thing I so casually threw out there, post them and I’ll get to them next week. Ta.

By Published On: July 22, 2009Categories: Writing