Last weekend I attended the Wisconsin 2012 Write Touch Conference. This conference is small (around 100 attendees) compared to the RWA National (2000 attendees). But size doesn’t matter.
Large conferences provide the business aspect. You can attend dozens of sessions, listen to key speakers (big name authors), and pitch to one or more agents or editors. You can win awards for books or contests, and you can meet people from all over the world. The small conferences provides the same, only downsized – picture a Roadmaster versus a Mini Cooper.
Which conference do I prefer? Both. I determine what I want out of the conference. For past RWA conferences, I jetted off to Reno, San Francisco, and Atlanta to learn different writing skills and techniques. For the RT Conference in April, I jetted to Chicago to gather loads of information on self-publishing. For the conference this weekend in Wausau (with my fellow Chippewa Falls group), I volunteered to work the raffle, to connect with fellow writers, and to have fun.
Where else but a small conference could I sit next to a bestselling author and tell her that my crotch was wet? Because I was having an allergic reaction to who knows what, I had a towel filled with ice chips pressed to my arm. The ice melted and then spewed all over the floor when I quickly sat up. All of us writers in the raffle room had fun with that one. And, where else could I play match-maker with an editor? She has a son who could date my daughter, and her daughter could date my son – (don’t worry, Miss “M”, I still want to hook you up with my son). At a larger conference, I doubt these moments would have happened.
Small or large, conferences pull people together. They give us an opportunity to network, gain knowledge, and get inspired. What you make of them when you go is entirely up to you. Know what you want out of them, learn, and have fun. With my conferences done for the year, I’m now charged to get published and to write. Of course, there’s the retreat in September that I’ll be attending….