This past weekend I spent at a writers' conference in Denver, Colorado. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' annual conference, Colorado Gold. RMFW is my "home" writers' group, the group where I apprenticed in the craft of fiction-writing. I first joined in 1988, and I credit the workshops, seminars, conferences, and critique groups with providing the opportunities I needed to become published in 1995 with my historical western, ABILENE GAMBLE. Another great group sprang from RMFW in the early 1990's, Pikes Peak Writers in Colorado Springs, which also hosts a yearly writers' conference each April. I attended both writers' conferences every year---as well as others---in my journey to becoming a published novelist.
It was great to see old friends again last weekend---and make new ones. I hadn't been able to attend either RMFW's conference or the Pike's Peak April conference for a few years because I was attending mystery conferences held in other cities in the U.S. at the same time. I had missed the excitement of watching other writers progress in their journeys. Several writers that were just starting out when I became published are now celebrating the release of their first novels. I had missed meeting new writers, some attending for the first time, who needed encouragement. I've always believed in "giving back" by encouraging new writers as other experienced and successful authors encouraged me years ago. Completing the Circle, I call it.
Writers' conferences offer workshop sessions in all aspects of the writing craft, plus sessions on other writing-business topics. They are necessary for those of us who are storytellers and are determined to persevere in our quest to become published novelists. The information is essential, I think. So is the networking we experience with other writers. Sharing our joys, sorrows, trials and triumphs with other writers helps sustain us in this difficult and demanding business we've chosen.
Writing is a solitary occupation. No one can understand you like another writer. Family members love us, but they can't really understand our drive to write down the stories that these "people" inside our head keep telling us. We'll do without sleep, entertainment, recreation, whatever to capture those stories. We can't help it. We've just GOT to write those stories.
What about you? Is there some occupation or activity that has capitivated you enough that you've actually gone to workshops and seminars to learn about it?