Paging All Prospectives

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I attended the James River Writers conference in Richmond this year.  This past weekend marks the third time I’ve headed to the Library of Virginia to join other aspiring writers.

I love going to this conference; the first one I attended was in 2006.  The energy is always great, the speakers are quality & even if there’s a panel that doesn’t spark my interest, I come away with some new fact or point to ponder.  At a panel on historical non-fiction, I learned the difference between a historian & a historical writer.  (One produces a thorough academic presentation; the other produces a commercially viable narrative.)  On the first day, I left my husband three separate voice mails on everything that was happening.

This year featured a few panels that I came away from with pages of notes.  One in particular was on freelancing, which was particularly timely.  My husband has just lost his job & both of us have discussed freelance writing as a way to bring in more income.  Another thorough panel was one on using social media to help market yourself & your manuscript.  (Although, I must admit, I was one of the youngest people in the room, not counting the presenters.)

I came away from the conference with two distinct feelings.  First, I was energized, inspired to go home & never put my pen down again.  I love the fact that Richmond nurtures such a strong, resourceful community of writers & literati.  I want in; I want to be a part of the club.

But, there was a small part of me that felt a little dislocated.  I recognize JRW for what it is.  It’s a resource to offer support & networking for writers who want to be published.  & yes, what is the point of writing something if you’re not going to share it with someone, anyone?!  (I mean, seriously, why else did I start this blog post?)

But, there is a part of me that believes in living the writing life for itself.  That same part of me has accepted that there may never ever be a book with my name on it but the act of writing can be so much more rewarding.  It’s this same part that grows dizzy when the pursuit of thought & obsessive note-taking reaches that sublime moment of connection & insight.  That sort of interior drive is not the major vibe at JRW.

With that said, I left the conference last weekend with the beginnings of a goal.  First, Kurt & I are definitely attending the AWP conference in DC in February.  If freelancing is the name of the game & we’re both serious about pursuing a writing career, it’d be stupid not to go.

Second, every year there is an opportunity to either a.) pitch your manuscript to an agent in an one-on-one or b.) submit the first page of your manuscript to an anonymous critique of agents.  This is the third year I’ve gone & had no answer when someone else has asked me what I’m working on.  It might be the time to change that.


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