My favorite conference turned thirty this month, the Colorado Gold, hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in Denver. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attended. But I think my first was in 2002. I remember being a little lost. I envied the people who knew everyone and wished I lived closer to Denver so I could be more involved. (I was over an hour away!) But I met my goals that year: to get a “send-it” from an agent and find a critique group.
Each year I attended, I felt a little more at home, less nervous, less isolated, making an effort to find other writers I could connect with. I learned to smile at EVERYONE. I kept getting send-its but no agent. I could write well and pitch well, but my story had holes. I had put in my 10,000 hours as a writer, but I needed 10,000 more hours as a storyteller. I’m still clocking those hours.
A couple of years ago, I decided these conferences were too expensive to simply get one send-it from an agent and/or editor who might not fall in love with my story. If I was going to keep attending, I needed to get more out of these conferences. I began to focus more on the other writers I met, on getting to know them and their work, reading their books and reviewing them, learning from everything they said and everything I read. So many dynamic, wonderful people attend Colorado Gold, writers who write a lot and still have time and energy to help a comrade with craft, give business advice, share a story and a laugh. I liked those people. I wanted to be one of them.
This is not a success story. Yet. I still don’t have an agent, but I haven’t given up, weary as I sometimes get. When lassitude sets in, I turn to my writer friends. Most of them have suffered from inertia at one time or another. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
This year, I was able to attend four writers conferences, all in my home state of Colorado. Colorado Gold is my favorite and has been for years. Most of my writer friends are there, and I encourage writer friends who aren’t regulars to attend.
If you’re a writer who’s never attended, consider this your personal invitation. And feel free to contact me with questions.
Next year, I might have to chop one conference from the itinerary. It pains me, but I think I need an actual vacation next year. You know when it’s time, and it is time. But if I have to miss one conference in 2015, the Colorado Gold will not be that one.
If you will be there next September, find me and say hello.