So last weekend was the OWFI Conference in Oklahoma City. It was held at the Embassy Suites on Meridian and in a word? Amazing.
I’d never been to a conference before. I’d kind of forgotten how awesome it feels to be surrounded by other writers with the same goals as you. Everyone there acted like everyone else there was a colleague instead of a competitor. I heard a guy on the phone, telling someone that an agent had just called, requesting his entire manuscript.
It was sort of surreal to witness that happening.
Kelley Armstrong was the keynote speaker and she gave a speech on coping with the uncertainty of being a writer. She said that she gets asked all the time if she could go back in time and tell her unpublished self one thing, what would it be? She said she used to think it would be, “Don’t worry. You’ll make it.” But now she doesn’t think she would tell herself that. She’s not sure she would have tried as hard or had the drive and determination that got her where she is today.
She gave inspirational insights into her own publishing journey, citing many times that she was rejected and told that she couldn’t write. In college, she wasn’t even accepted into the creative writing course that she submitted a piece to in order to even get a spot in the class.
I went to an agents and editors panel that was really enlightening. They told stories about the worst queries that they’d ever received. Most of which involved people either not being able to spell or threatening their lives if they didn’t publish the author’s work. No joke. People really are that crazy about writing.
Another session that I attended was put on by a fantasy agent named Sam Morgan. He was awesome! He told a story about the worst query he ever received, which devolved into the guy harassing him on Twitter and via e-mail. Again, how crazy are people? Like, does it not occur to you that you’re crossing serious boundaries? Apparently not.
Anyway, I left there feeling more like a writer and less like I’m playing pretend at being a writer.
The editor that I was going to pitch my book to ended up having to cancel her appearance at the conference due to a family emergency. I truly hope that she’s doing well. I was able to pitch to another editor and it went really well!
Thrillerfest is right around the corner and I seriously can’t wait. I get so excited thinking about it. And I get nervous. But mostly excited. For now. I’m sure that the reality of being in New York City without a friend at the conference is going to hit me pretty soon.
I would encourage anyone who hasn’t ever gone to a conference to sign up for the next one they can attend. It’s well worth it!