I have a wonderful friend Andrew Rogers. He was able to get me and my mutually freeloading friend Josh into the Breathe Writer’s conference last Friday night. I cannot thank him enough.
It was my first writer’s conference, ever. Though I only attended a fraction of the conference it was a clear palm-to-the-forehead experience. Meaning, it was such an uplifting and encouraging occasion I felt like a moron for not attending before.
The key address was by W. Terry Whalin. It was titled Never, Never, Never Give Up – which, I believe, was coined by Churchill. He talked about various authors who faced mountains of rejection letters. And, though one author was rejected over one hundred and forty times, they eventually figured out a way to get published.
It was an invigorating speech filled with hope and a message of perseverance. When he was finished Mr. Whalin asked for young authors to come and talk with him and I eventually did, just as he was leaving. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
The agent I pitched my book to was there and it was good to see her. Before I could say anything she asked me – “Are you editing?” I nodded. “Good because it is a great idea.” (Bob’s-Hope-to-be-a-Writerometer went up a few blips).
After rubbing shoulders with a few more authors (and trying my best to not sound like someone who was giving way to much information away during a first date) I kept calm while secretly looking around and thinking that I have found the place I belong. My guess is this is how comic book enthusiasts feel at Comic-Con.
This experience made me realize the importance of writer’s conferences and the role they play in a young or veteran writer’s career. My hope is to attend the entire conference next year. The key note speaker is already lined up and I am eager to hear her address.
My most important experience came at the twilight of the conference. Mr. Whalin milled about the foyer waiting to leave and my friend Josh said “Let’s go talk to him”. I hesitated then followed. Josh pitched his brilliant novel idea while I stood quietly and awkwardly next to him. After he was done Mr. Whalin handed him his card and turned to leave. It was then I was overcome with a burst of confidence and shouted (probably pubescently) that I’d like to pitch my idea as well. He smiled pleasantly and turned to me.
I began to rattle of my idea. I was surprised it came out as clearly as it did because I had a log jam of words in my mind, but I spoke on. While I did so he asked a few questions about my novel. When I was done he asked if it was finished. I responded in the affirmative. He then asked for my card. I froze. Uh, I don’t have one. So I took one from work and scribbled my email on it and the book title.
This does not mean anything. This might have been a common courteousy acquisition editor’s do. But it was an experience I will never forget as was my first encounter of the Breathe Conference. I implore you to attend next year.