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.