I have so thoroughly emerged myself in RV life and the idea of becoming a full-time traveler that sometimes I have to pause to remember that full-time RVing was a solution to a situation I was trying to change. It wasn’t the situation itself I desired.
Looking to carve out more hours in the day to spend writing, I came to believe the full-time RV lifestyle would give me those precious hours. Plus I could afford it. The bonus was the traveling and seeing so much of this country that I haven’t so far. But RVing was the third of three ideas I explored. And I wrote about it in my third post.
In 2007, I came back to writing after having not written for about a decade. In short, I spent three years getting a Master’s degree in creative writing, graduated in 1996 and promptly stopped writing.
Between 2007 and 2014, in addition to writing I also started going to writing conferences. I tried to attend at least one per year.
Ironically, once 2014 became the year I decided start down the path to full-time traveler, I stopped writing. Except for this blog, I haven’t written anything in three years. That will turn around once I’m on the road and gain the time I’ve so desperately longed for.
For anyone interested in the written word, writing conferences are fantastic. They are equal parts information and inspiration.
I started by attending a local conference for four years, the Kachemak Bay Writers conference. Held in June in Homer, Alaska, it is small and is attended primarily by Alaskans. Surprisingly because of summer hotel prices, the cost of this conference (travel, hotel, conference fee) ends up not being any less than other conferences Outside (Alaska-speak for the Lower 48). But its small size and the fact I knew many participants was a good way for me to ease into conference attendance.
Over the years I have attended the Association of Writing Programs conference in three different cities. Denver, Chicago and Seattle. AWP is focused on academia—both those teaching and those attending writing programs. But with close to 10,000 in attendance, the breadth of their offerings is unbeatable. As is their price.
Book Passages is an independent bookstore in the San Francisco area. They offer three topic-focused conferences each summer. I attended the one on writing mystery novels. As a side note, I find the idea of a bookstore offering conferences a brilliant way for the little guy to try to stay afloat when competing against Barnes & Noble and the internet.
The last one I attended was after I had completed my mystery novel and was interested in the next step. The Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association conference offered me the chance to pitch my novel to agents. I pitched to six and five asked to see the first chapters.
The timing was such that I was trying to find an agent at the same time I turned my attention to full-time RVing. As a result, I wasn’t as aggressive with marketing my book, following up with agents, etc.
In other words, the book will likely stay the “book in the drawer” that most writers have. It becomes the book I cut my teeth on, the book where I taught myself that I could do it. I could be a writer of books.
Programs for writing conferences generally include details about the schedule, instructor bios and information about future conferences. Even though I rarely went back to the programs, I loved my growing stack of them.
Like when I downsized years’ worth of letters, I spent a bit of time looking through each of the programs, remembering the conference. Then the stack, like so many of my letters, went into the recycling pile.
I wondered why getting rid of programs that have no current or future use got to me a bit. There wasn’t anything about them that made me sentimental. And even while I enjoyed each of the conferences I attended, I’m not particularly sentimental about them either.
I think those programs were tangible proof I was working toward a goal. I was actively trying to learn and improve my craft, the thing I’d said I wanted to do since I was a freshman in college. Maybe it was what they represented that made me sentimental more so than the program books themselves.
On a positive note and something I greatly look forward to, RV life will make attending future writing conference so much easier and less expensive. With a house on wheels, I can attend a conference without buying a plane ticket or nights in a hotel. Conferences will only cost time and the registration fee. AWP in Portland, Oregon, in 2019 is definitely on my radar.
And, just as I originally envisioned, in a handful of weeks, time is one thing I will have.
Do you have conferences you love? Maybe hobby conferences? Work-related conferences? Would love to hear about them in the comments below.