Fear Friday: Go to a Writer’s Conference

November 13, 2015


Hey folks, I’m starting something new on this blog today: Fear Friday! The idea is that each week (or so) I’ll do something I’m a little bit afraid of (or a lot bit afraid of) and I’ll write about it. And seeing as I’m pretty much afraid of EVERYTHING, I’m thinking this is going to give me a whole bunch of things to write about.

Or it’s going to kill me.

Either way, really. 

On my first day of high school, I showed up, not knowing a single soul besides my brother and some kid I had known since kindergarten who had once asked me to couple-skate in sixth grade, but I had turned him down because he had spikey hair, and, at the time, I felt like that was a totally a legit reason to turn someone down for my first ever couple-skate. I mean, I was going to remember that skate, foreevvver, you guys. (On a related note, I never did get asked to couple-skate again, so maybe I should have been a little less judgey on the spikey hair front.)

On my first day of high school, I showed up, wearing a home-made t-shirt be-dazzled with sequins and scraps of lace. In my defense, I had spent the previous eight years of my school existence in a Catholic school uniform, so how was I supposed to know that normal, non-uniformed humans don’t kick it in home-made, bedazzled t-shirts?

On my first day of high school, I prayed that someone, anyone would sit with me at lunch.

And that’s pretty much what I was praying when I stepped into my first ever writer’s conference the other week. That, and, please Lord, let there be coffee. Because it was really-early-o’clock in the morning, and I had woken up at even-earlier-o’clock to drive the hour to Grand Rapids to get to the conference, and I am not exactly the type of person who can talk to strangers without coffee at really-early-o’clock in the morning.

But what made me even more nervous than the whole lunch table thing and the potential lack of coffee thing was the worry that maybe people might find out that I wasn’t actually a writer.

I mean, sure, I write stuff. And, sometimes, I share that stuff here. And I’ve even been known to share that stuff elsewhere.

But that book I keep saying that I’m totally going to start working on?

Um, yeah, about that…

And those writing publications and contests that I keep telling myself that I’m going to submit stuff too?

Um, yeah, not so much.

But as the day progressed and I talked to more and more people about what they were writing or not-writing, I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t so alone on the whole not-feeling-like-an-actual-writer-while-at-a-writer’s-conference thing.

“I have a blog, but I’m not really a writer.”

“I’m a writer, but I haven’t published anything yet.”

“I published something, but it was for a really small publication.”

It was like my first day of high school all over again. But in this version everyone was wearing sequin-and-lace-bedazzled t-shirts and sporting spikey hair, but nobody was judging us for it.

And nobody had to sit by themselves at lunch because we were all in this scary thing together.


Have you ever been to a writer’s conference? How was it? 



I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm Lisa said:

    I went to my first writers conference last year–Book Passage Travel Writers Conference. And oh boy, do I know what you’re talking about. Way scary. But everyone was really nice, even when I told them that I write about traveling to look at birds. And then I write about the birds. I know, it’s kind of weird.

    I was not prepared for the “Personal Memoir” deep-dive breakout, where we met in a small group over the course of three days and workshopped a piece. And by “workshopped,” I mean that people read it and then gave critical feedback. No one warned me that there would be tears–MY tears. Rookie mistake, you see. No one was mean (that’s not why I cried). It’s that no one told me to avoid workshopping a piece about learning your best friend died while you’re off galavanting with a suitor in a far-away country. Heavy stuff and I think I went through the whole box of kleenex. Gah! Overall, though, it was a great experience. I went from, “Hey guys, I feel like I’m a great writer,” to “I’m maybe an okay writer,” to “Man I SUCK at writing,” to eventually feeling, “Hey, I’m actually a decent writer!” Oh, and when they have a writing contest, ENTER IT! Because I actually won “Honorable Mention.” And the piece was about traveling to see a bird. So there you go.
    Lisa recently posted..Chasing Parakeets and Parrots

    • On November 23, 2015 at 8:09 pm Sally said:

      Whoa. That workshop sounds like the story-telling class I took last semester. SO MANY TEARS. And not over anything I wrote, I just cried every time someone else cried… which was all the time.

  2. On November 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm Priya said:

    Never been to a writer’s conference but I have been attending writers groups lately. Also if we went to high school together, I would’ve had lunch with you 🙂

    • On November 23, 2015 at 8:07 pm Sally said:

      Errm, I think, due to our age difference, if we had attended high school together that would have made me the super old weirdo (or you the super young child genius).

  3. On November 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm deb dench said:

    You are already a writer. I’ve been reading your work for years. Trust me, you are a writer, a very good writer.

  4. On November 15, 2015 at 4:16 am Claudia said:

    But you are a writer!! To me. Doesn’t that count?
    Claudia recently posted..Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell? Crossing Dante’s Inferno on Mount Bromo

  5. On November 16, 2015 at 2:33 am Leslie (now) in Oregon said:

    Of course you are a writer! I’m glad you went to the conference and look forward to hearing more.

  6. On November 22, 2015 at 6:48 pm becky hutner said:

    I love this “Fear Friday” idea and might totally steal it, cool? It’s especially pertinent to me now that I’ve just moved countries. So much to fear!!

    And to chime in with everyone else, obviously you’re a writer and I put you on the same level as all of my other favorite writers. Deal with it!
    becky hutner recently posted..Canadian in…London??

  7. On November 24, 2015 at 10:56 pm Choi Kum Fook said:

    You are good writer, Sally! Even though sometime I do not write comment on it, but I read through out every chapter of the blog since 2009. I am your sincere reader! It supply huge of knowledge and things to me, thank you very, Sally!


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