Last week, I talked about how valuable the critique process was for me. That’s one of several threads that have allowed me to really bloom and grow in the craft. One of the others is writing conferences. These, to me, are so so worthwhile.
Now, I’ve only ever been to a proper writing conference once, actually, but I’ve mostly gone to genre fiction fan conventions that tend to be writing-heavy in their programming. For example, Capclave, RavenCon, and ChessieCon, which are all in my general area of the US. I’ve also attended DragonCon for some of its author panels and genre fiction, but it’s also a huge social event for me, so it’s hard to network and focus on professional development when there’s also a lot of drinking in costume to do.
The point is that these events can be invaluable. I encourage everyone to go to fan-run conventions in their area! You can listen to panelists talk about topics that interest you, meet writers, and maybe even get in on some writing workshops while you’re there. And, crucially, you can start to network. If you’re looking to be a professional fiction writer, you need to build yourself as a brand. Because you are the product that you are promoting. This is all another post for another time.
Recently, I decided to get a little brave and apply to be a panelist and to run a workshop at Capclave last year. And it was both exhilarating and totally terrifying. Have you heard of imposter syndrome? Well, it hit me HARD that weekend. I had a crisis of faith and an anxiety attack and it was a pretty terrible hour of sobbing and self-doubt. I almost packed my bags and left the night before I was supposed to be on two panels. Luckily, my wonderful friends talked me down and convinced me to stay.
And you know what? The world didn’t end. I spoke on two panels and helped teach an interactive micro fiction workshop and I think the whole thing went over well. It was worth sticking around for. It was a hard lesson in believing in yourself, even when things aren’t going your way at all.
And let me tell you what, that imposter syndrome still haunts me to this day. Every day, it whispers in my ear that if I were any good, I’d have representation on my manuscript by now. But you know what? It can absolutely eat it. I’m doing well. I’m getting better. I’m still working on becoming a more skilled writer all the time. And as long as I’m still working on honing my craft? Then I’m moving forward. And success will come in due time.