Writer’s Conferences

Having just returned from a gathering called the North Wildwood Writers Conference, I have a few thoughts on this one, as well as many other conferences where I’ve been an invited speaker or instructor.

  • Most of the people who attend these things like the *notion* of being a writer . . . rather than the reality of being one.
  • They write infrequently.
  • Most of them have *never* submitted their work for publication—even to online, non-paying venues.
  • A majority are terrified their work will be negatively criticized.
  • A majority are poor-to-fair writers who need healthy doses of honest line-editing and deconstruction of their work.

Which basically says they are afraid to be real writers.

If they continue to let their apprehensions control their desire to write, it’s just not gonna happen. I remember being equally intimidated when I started sending my execrable tales on their appointed rounds to the science fiction magazines of the seventies.

But I did it anyway.

At some point, I accepted rejection as a necessary part of the process of becoming the writer I needed to be.

I racked up an impressive count of more than 200 rejection slips before I sold a story to Amazing Science Fiction for a penny a word. I got my first check for $30.00 . . . and it was all the validation I needed. If I could do it once, I could do it again, and countless times afterward.

And when I go to these gatherings of bored housewives and retired execs, I don’t try to teach them grammar or style or storytelling theory. My only goal is to leave them with a determination to write a page or two every day and send out every finished piece of work.

After a while, the rejections no longer hurt . . . they just piss you off.

And that’s a good thing.


One thought on “Writer’s Conferences

  1. Right, Tom, if you don’t sit down every day and write fiction because you just absolutely have to do it and want to do it, you’re never going to be a professional writer. It’s like expecting to be a concert pianist by practicing twice a month, or only on weekends or holidays (when you get time). Can’t be done. Writing is a full time obsession.

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