March 29, 2010

A Sneak Peek at Writer's Conferences by Katie Hines

This past weekend I participated in an area writer's conference. There weren't a lot of attendees (maybe 60?), but I was excited because Jane Friedman, an editor from Writer's Digest, was going to be speaking and teaching several classes.

Then came the word: Jane was stuck at the airport and couldn't come after all. For any of the sessions.

I couldn't believe it! The one person I had really wanted to hear speak. Instead, the conference people scrambled and found others to fill her teaching spots. Doesn't pride come before a fall? Well, I found myself being prideful, thinking I couldn't learn anything from the other speakers, why I could probably--should probably--be a speaker myself!

How ridiculous were those ruminations?

These were folks with numerous publication credits under their belts, and I had to audacity to think I couldn't learn from them? Shame on me.

Turned out, the conference was dynamite, and I learned a ton. What a difference the right mindset makes. So don't fall into the trap that I did just because your favorite speaker isn't going to attend the conference you want to go to. There's ALWAYS a ton to learn, and I had the opportunity to learn a lot--once I changed my mindset.

Don't fall into the same trap I almost did! Go, learn, and improve your writing.

Katie's book, "Guardian," can be ordered through her publisher at


Ginger Simpson said...

I shared that feeling when I had the opportunity to sit in on an on-line class taught by Cheryl St. John. I doubted she could tell me much that I haven't already learned, but I was soooo wrong. Cheryl puts her lessons into easy language, gives great examples, and I walked away with more than I bargained for. I highly suggest her to anyone looking for knowledge. I'll be posting about her March class on my blog soon....and yes, I intend to enroll.

Glad you had an eventful event.

Virginia said...

Great post! This tells me we can learn something new everyday if we set our minds to it!


Mary Ricksen said...

I'm glad they were able to pull it off. Those who run these things deserve kudos for all their hard work.
I think we can learn from anyone!

Sally_Odgers said...

You can learn from many, but it still pays to choose your advisors wisely. I used to sub to a writing magazine. It had articles which I read assiduously until I realised many of the writers had "agents, trying hard to get me published". At that point I'd been selling steadily without an agent for nearly 20 years. Therefore, if they and I differed on a writing point it seemed to me my position was at least as valid as theirs. Of course, it is difficult to quantify success in writing. Some of my best ever books have never made it into print, and some of the best writers in the world make no more than a modest living... if that. I mentor several writers who have six or seven more years of formal schooling than I, including degrees in literature. Interesting topic, Katie! Being prideful is counterproductive in the writing world, but you can't afford to be too humble either. If I'd ever let my lack of formal education bother me I would never have made that first submission when I was twelve.

Maryann Miller said...

Katie, I learned that lesson about conferences a long time ago. There is always something we can learn, and if we sit out workshops because we think we know more than the presenter, we are only hurting ourselves.

Donna M. McDine said...


Sound advice. Glad you were able to shift gears and get all you could out of the conference.

Best wishes,

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

You are so right,Katie. There's always something new. We learn from each other. Great post.


Vivian Zabel said...

Good advice, Katie. I learn something every writing magazine I read and every conference I attend. Sometimes what I learn is very surprising.

Jane Friedman said...

So sorry I couldn't be there! But glad you found something else to appreciate. :-)

Katie Hines said...

See, all you fine folks watched me eat humble pie! How stupid I was for thinking that I'd somehow "arrived." If it's one thing I've learned it's that we can always learn from someone else, no matter what their "publication status" is!

Thanks for your comments, and thanks, Anna, for allowing me to post on your blog today.

Rhobin said...

I had a similar experience but from the opposite side when I taught a class on basic crewel embroidery. Unknown to me, a master needle woman joined the class. Afterward she told me about her expertise, making me feel very inadequate, but she also said it wasn't a waste of her time because she did learn some new techniques. I learned from that experience, too. Teaching and learning is about sharing knowledge, but both teacher and student have to keep an open mind for it to work.

Cheryl said...

Great article, Katie. It's tough to swallow that pride--at least it is for me.

I'm on the planning committee for a local writers conference, and that is one of my big fears--our presenters not showing up.

Glad it all worked out.


Anonymous said...

I'm jealous. I can't wait for my first in person conference.

prashant said...

Great post! This tells me we can learn something new everyday if we set our minds to it!
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