Last weekend I unplugged for awhile to attend DFWCon, a writers’ conference in Dallas. I came away exhausted, exhilarated, refreshed, energized, recharged, intimidated, and overwhelmed. That’s a lot of emotions for one short person to hold all at once. I confess the first thing I did when I got home was play World of Warcraft in my PJs. You know, to decompress. I managed to get my druid to level 83! Two more levels and I’m done with the quest grind, but that’s a topic for another blog.
If you’re a writer, this is one of the best conferences to attend. I felt like I was with 400 of my closest friends. They have the same struggles I do, and were seeking the same things I was. It was the most supportive environment I’ve ever experienced. Plus, I met some amazing people. Some I’d known only on Twitter, and some I’d never met before.
I shook hands with James Rollins (yes, THE James Rollins) and learned so much from his session. He’s charming, and funny, and a fantastic writer, plus he loves cats. And he draws skulls. You want to meet him now, right? Yes, you do.
I listened to Laurie McLean (agent), Kristen Lamb (social media ninja), and Kait Nolan (author of paranormal romance) and had an epihany about my own life and direction. It was the sort of lightbulb that is supposed to go off in college but for me, didn’t. These three amazing women managed to clear waters for me that I had muddied up in my head over the past year until I couldn’t see the bottom. Now the water is clear, and I have a plan and a direction and hope for the future. That’s not bad for an hour, wouldn’t you say?
I took a networking class with Brenna Smith, who taught us how to network at conferences. In less than 30 minutes she made me feel comfortable walking up to a group of people and joining in the conversation. You would think that I would have learned that by now but no, they don’t really teach you that in college, either.
There was so much good advice offered in this two day conference that it’s hard to cull it all down into a few paragraphs. However, one line did stand out for me. The very funny and wise Jodi Thomas said these words and they resonated so much I have to share them. Plus I think they apply to more than just a pre-published writer:
Creativity is not a bucket. It’s a river. Jump in!
Ideas won’t ever stop, or run out. When you send one out, you get more coming back. They are constantly flowing by and if you just jump into the river you’ll catch as many as you want or need. You won’t run out of stories. Ever. So stop worrying, and start writing.
Well, okay then. I think I will.
Stay tuned, exciting life decisions will be revealed in future blogs. Or photos of cats. Or both, really, you never can tell.
Hi Melinda! It was really nice to have met you and you made me smile seeing how many of the same classes we were in and you were always near the front row! I liked doing that too, so must mean we’re good students.
I agree that attending conferences like these are equally overwhelming and empowering at the same time. Glad you could decompress a bit, but never let your writing be put on the back burner. My big takeaway this year was my planning process, or lack thereof which hindered the writing I could’ve had completed by now. So all of us make mistakes along the way and start over.
Look forward to hearing how you dive in!
It was nice to meet you too! I love sitting in the front because, well, I’m short lol. If I get more than three rows back I can’t see anything and it drives me crazy. So I try to get the front row and since most people don’t want to be that close it works out ok. I confess I do the same thing in movie theaters.
I had one of those moments too, where I was kicking myself because I pitched the same story this year that I pitched last year. While I’ve learned so much in this year and the story changed a lot, there’s still no excuse to still be working on the same story a year later. I needed someone to kick my behind! Glad Candace Havens was there 😉
If you need a “kick me in the pants” partner, I’m happy to volunteer. I need one too 😀
I wish I could have been there. Maybe next year and hopefully a lot of WANA tweeps will attend again.
Sounds like the conference was a success for you. I can’t wait to hear what revelations you had that cleared the water 🙂
I wish you could have been there, too! I can’t wait to meet you in person. We’ll figure out a way. I’m sure WANA tweeps will converge next year since we all seemed to have a good time this year. I go every year, because it’s just that good. I always learn so much. It’s the only conference I’ve ever been to where I can honestly say not one moment was wasted. There was no session where I thought “this is boring”. It is jam-packed and full of energy, information, and lightbulbs going off over people’s heads 😀 Plus, there’s food!
It sounds like the conference was inspiring! I just read the post Jess wrote about it too and between the two of you it sounds like it was a not to be missed opportunity! Looking forward to reading about your plans/your process–I learn so much from all you guys!
I think the feeling is mutual 🙂 Can’t tell you how much I learn just from watching others. It really was inspiring.
I am so glad that you enjoyed the conference Melinda! Nothing like being around stimulating people to get those creative juices flowing! So you aren’t the wallflower you said you were. Shaking hands with James Rollins no less. I’m impressed! See what happens when you push yourself beyond your comfort zone? Rest up Melinda! It sounds like you’ve got a lot of writing to do! LOL! 🙂
My goal for this conference was to actually speak to people, and I’m happy to say I passed that test with flying colors! I did lose speed toward the very end of the reception on the first day. That was a long day, and I talked my face off. I was so tired! So I didn’t work the reception like I wanted to, and kicked myself all the way home for leaving early. But other than that I did ok I think. I thank Brenna Smith for that. I took that networking session first thing in the morning and it really helped.
Really great summary, Melinda! Makes me want to put next year’s conference on my schedule right now. I remember going to my first conference. When it was over the hubster picked me up at the airport and asked, “How was it?” I could feel the stars shining in my eyes as I replied, “They were MY PEEPS!” Nothing like talking to other writers about writing to get you motivated.
hehe! These are definitely your peeps! I think the moment I’m most proud of was during the reception when I was talking with someone who was just as nervous as I was. I convinced her there was nothing to be afraid of, and pushed her off in the direction of the agent she wanted to meet…and she did it! She talked with the agent, and the agent asked her for pages. She was so proud and happy, which made me proud and happy :-). It’s THAT kind of atmosphere. It’s awesome.
Sounds like a lot of fun. I LOVE writers’ conferences. So much amazing energy swirling about. I’ll have to see if I can get to this one next year.
Definitely go! I’ve been to several now and it’s always an amazing experience. My next one is Thrillerfest. Can’t wait to see how that compares.
I loved meeeting you, Melinda! I also had to decompress a bit. I’m an introvert by nature, who was extroverting all weekend long. The long drive home (to Houston area) helped me to unwind as I listened to an audiobook on the way and contemplated about 1/34th of what I had learned. For myself, I went to DFWCon with specific goals and met every single one. I have a publishing direction, queries to send out, and writing advice to apply to manuscript revisions. Best wishes with your writing!
Best wishes for your writing too! I wouldn’t say I’m an introvert, exactly, but it was still exhausting. That first day is so long! In a good way. Still wished the whole conference was longer, just because there were more people I wanted to spend time with. All good things!
Hey, Melinda! So glad we met there. I liked DFWCon so much that I’m already signed up for 2013. At the rate time is passing, that’ll be in about 15 minutes. Hope to see you there again!
Oh I’ll definitely be there. Wouldn’t miss it! I know, time goes by way too fast these days. Waaaaay too fast.
Great blog! And YES it is exhausting. I am still not completely coherent. Need…more…sleep. It was so fantastic getting to see you at the conference and I hep you will come back next year. Would be great to get to hang out with you more than a nanosecond. *hugs!*
I know, you were a busy, busy girl! I sat next to you in James Rollins tips for writers session. Talk about standing room only! I will definitely be back. And I’m with you on the needing more sleep. Still. lol.
By the way, one of my life-changing moments happened in your session so I totally plan on blaming you for it later 😉
Sounds like you had an amazing experience, Melinda! Just for that “aha” moment alone and then all the talented peeps you spent facetime with…so happy for ya! And a bit jealous 🙂
I did, but then it’s like that every year. They do an amazing job of organizing and planning. You should join us next year!
The conference sounds really awesome. Congrats on getting the waters cleared for your direction. It’s such a good feeling.
I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your epiphanies. As an introvert, I’d be especially interested in the networking lessons.
I hope they have networking classes every time, because it was nice to have that little push to “get out there”. I wouldn’t call myself a true introvert, but there’s something about conferences that makes me clam up and sit in a corner. But with Brenna’s help, I pushed past that. Conferences are a LOT more fun when you talk to people! And everyone was trying to make sure they networked, which made it easier. I’ve never seen a conference include a session like this but it was a life saver. Then every time Brenna would see me talking with someone she’d cheer 😀
sounds wonderful, Melinda. maybe next year for me.
Do it! I’ll be like a conference pusher next year. muahahahaha
Jealous. Jealous. Jealous. That’s me on not being able to go to DFW this year. Thanks for the review. I hope to read more post DFW reviews.
There’s a lot of reviews starting to pop up. Check out Kait Nolan’s: http://kaitnolan.com/2012/05/20/sunday-summary-dfwcon/