Attending DFWcon in Dallas, Texas – Olive

 

DFWCon, AKA DFW Writers Conference, is a program created by the DFW Writer’s Workshop, an organization founded in 1977 to help writers produce and promote professionally published work. Not only are their classes and events worthwhile, but they’re awesome people too.

It’s been a week since I attended my first writer’s conference—an intense two days full of classes, agents, editors, and a few new friends. It was also the first time I pitched our story, THE CITY OF GOLD AND FIRE, to a real live agent.

And that was kind of awful.

Now, when I say awful, I mean incredibly worthwhile, too. Because although it was awful, it was also a great and necessary experience.

Don’t know how to swim? Jump in the murky, brown water of indeterminable depth…. Here we go! /gets pushed from behind /belly flops

Objectively, I understand that all of this is a learning process. As with anything else I’ve done—the military, the law, or the rest of life—there’s been an adjustment period. I’m the type that needs practice, and I learn best by doing. Doing the real thing, that is.

But, crap. As soon as I tried to talk about the [awesome] story I wrote and worked on over the course of the last four years with my BFF, my throat closed up and my mind went blank, despite the practice I did.

Aristen and I have spent decades (almost three now) writing and talking about our writing with each other and nobody else. But the two of us have so much history; we admittedly have our own language. It’s a challenge to translate this innate understanding that we have with each other, let alone to persuade an agent to take our work on as a product they can sell.

Happily, by the end of the conference, I could talk about it with more ease, even if I may have bombed my first two attempts. The last agent I spoke to interrupted and asked questions that I could answer on the fly, fully, in real English! (ed: That’s progress, right? -Aristen) The good news is that even if the agents didn’t dig the pitch or the project, they were polite and gracious. That’s really all I can ask for. 🙂

Apart from the industry insiders in attendance, DFWcon offered me, the newbie, some solid classes.  Jane Friedman, a 20-year industry vet, taught classes in both traditional and self-publishing [Indie publishing]. I took another class in world building and one in writing female SFF characters. I even took one about the legal issues pertaining to authors. Though I could have asked a thousand questions in that latter class (I’m not a gunner, me swears), it was good to get a preview.

The keynote speakers were the wildly interesting Stephanie Klein (here’s her keynote speech), who wrote a memoir called MOOSE about her childhood as a kid who went to fat camp. The inspiring, Rachel Caine, an author with over 50 international bestsellers under her belt, followed during lunch the second day. Her message was wonderful: sometimes you can take an unexpected route to success. Be flexible. And have pen names. Many of them.

Overall, it was worth every penny to be in the midst of greatness, and I’m thankful I have the ability to attend these types of events. I can only assume next year will be just as informative and inspiring. And lookie here, they’re offering a reduced rate for early birds in 2018! (Ed: Do we get an even more reduced rate for plugging it? ;P – Aristen) 

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