It’s been a long time — years — since I last attended a writer’s conference. In that time, I’ve done scarcely anything that’s been writerly in or around the Pittsburgh area. It’s been rough. I’ve missed it.
This morning, as soon as I put The Girl Band on the bus, I’m headed down to the Pennwriters Conference. I’ve been volunteering and helping out… I have to say, it was way more fun when I did it two years ago. I had more time, fewer obligations, and no editing clients who simply have to come first.
I think this is a great organization, but I have to take a step back and evaluate. Although I have six books out, they won’t consider me published. Although I volunteered to lead a few panels — including one all about reviewing, including how to respond to negative reviews, how to solicit reviews, where to look, and why you should/shouldn’t pay for a review, something I’ve never seen offered at ANY conference — my offer was lost. When I brought it up to the very person I’m volunteering my time for, she said if something opened, she’d be glad to plug me in.
You know where this is headed. Someone was needed to fill a Sunday morning spot.
It’s not me.
In fact, I am not even planning on being on-site Sunday. After the book signing on Saturday, I am going to pack up my books — I don’t expect any to sell and, being that horror show called self-published, I have to schlep my own books to/from the signing — and call it done. Smile through dinner with the local group who is smart enough to value and like me.
For me and Pennwriters, it’s going to come down to how the weekend goes. There are very few, if any, panels I’m interested in taking. I don’t need to learn how to self-edit. I don’t need social media for beginners, which has been taught at every conference since at least 2010. I don’t need to learn how to pitch to literary agents, or what happens after my book sells. That’s not my path. And lunch today? The choices are the hot buffet luncheon for the published group who won’t consider me published or the more expensive cold cuts in a box (at least, that’s what it was two years ago) with a talk given by someone who was less than gracious (to say the least; my group of friends has banned me from ever inviting anyone to our group dinner ever again, based on how he acted) about … how to find a literary agent.
Needless to say, I am planning on heading out of the hotel and up to a local beer joint that makes great fries. Maybe, if I find a friend who feels as I do, I’ll stay and eat in the hotel restaurant. But really, Bocktown’s not far, and I haven’t been there in years, either.
But the industry has hung a sharp left since then. My life has gone even more sharply in other directions (hello, editing business!). And maybe it’s time to find — or create — a group where I’m not the round peg in the square hole, filling pretty well but not quite.
I don’t know. This weekend will tell.