The Association of Writers and Writing Programs was a couple of weeks ago and the National Black Writers Conference is in a couple of weeks. Having just recently returned from one conference and with plans to visit the second, here are some tips on how to survive—and thrive—at a writer’s conference.
1) Writers are a weird bunch, so expect weirdness. Writers are like other people in that they form their own little cliques and groups, but because writers are always putting some of themselves out there, they can be fragile and vulnerable or bombastic and wildly over-confident or–depending on how long they’ve been in therapy–anything in between. Be friendly and cordial, but don’t be surprised or take it personally if you meet writers who may be withdrawn or who may blurt out strange things.
2) There will be a clamoring for workshops. Popular workshops tend to fill-up quickly. Most conference attendees want to hear a reading by a respected writer or learn more about a specific craft-related issue or find out some inside tips about winning a fellowship or finding an agent. If there is a workshop that really interests you, make sure you get there early, so that you can sit where you like and make the most of the workshop.
3) You won’t remember as much as you’d like to, so bring a notebook and several pens, or a lightweight laptop if you own one. If you jot down a couple of key ideas in a central place, such as a notebook or a laptop, then you have a better chance of being able to locate and review your information later.
4) Expect to make friends. Bring a card that contains information about your website, email address, or Twitter handler so that you can keep in touch with some of the interesting, strange, or thoughtful people you meet. Remember, you’re now one of them.
Recent and upcoming events/sightings:
Marita Golden at the Hurston Wright Foundation’s Fundraiser on March 28th at the LeRoy Neiman Art Center, 2785 Frederick Douglass Blvd; Angela Davis on March 22 at the 12th National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College
(Have a literary event or sighting that you’d like to publicize? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with information about your event.)