Writing conferences are another tool of the Fiction Writing Industrial Complex. They advertise panel discussions, classes, workshops, and one-on-one editorial sessions. They promise opportunities to get professional writing advice from people you’ve never heard of and a chance to interact with dozens to hundreds of other chumps who dished out the $3000 registration fee. It’s all utter bullshit.
Or, at least, that’s what I thought until last Thursday. When the author of one of the worst books I’ve been required to read showed up for our class discussion, I learned about the secret power behind writing conferences: the networking. The author in question told the harrowing story of how it took her seven years and four agents to get her crap book* published. Each step of the way, the thing that led her to getting an agent (or a new agent) or getting the advice that got her book published, the thing was attending a writer’s conference and just networking. Goddamn it.
So I’m doing it. I’m now signed up for the Conversations and Connections one-day writer’s conference in DC next month. I’m working on getting a deck of business cards, and I’m revising the fuck out of several of my stories: all in the hopes of rubbing butts with editors who might, just maybe, think I’m as good a writer as I know I am. On top of that, I’m seriously considering forking out the $1300 needed to attend the One Story Summer Writers Conference–if I get picked for one of the open ten spots. So I’m also planning on getting a chapter of Birdland in shape enough to ship out for submission by April 11.
And now I’m the chump and sucker, forced to buy into the whole Fiction Writing Industrial Complex in a way I was hoping against hope I wouldn’t have to. I’m really hating myself here. Goddamn it.
* Washing The Dead, page 109: “Sam was a considerate and efficient lover.” Literary crimes like that sentence either get you sent away to Siberia in Soviet Russia or make you $160 million in gross box office ticket sales in America.