Today is one of those nights. Because in about ten hours, I head off for THE Midwest Writer’s Workshop. I have been to this conference for the last four years, and my “fifth year senior” trip is looking to be the best yet.
Why? I’m so glad you asked! This conference is like none I have ever been to, and I am a bit of a conference tramp. I’ve been to big conferences and little ones. Ones that take place in enormous hotel empires and ones that are held in a state park lodge. And they all have their outstanding qualities. But there is something about MWW that keeps me coming back. And, since you asked, I’m going to share a few of them with you.
1. Jama (and the Committee): It doesn’t take long to for even the newest newbie to realize that the heart of MWW is Jama. Don’t get me wrong, the Committee works their tails off and they deserve every ounce of credit they get, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone more dedicated to fostering writers than Jama Bigger. Don’t believe me? Dude, she has her own fan club! Check this out: http://jamasfanclub.wordpress.com/
2. The faculty: OMG. Not only does MWW deliver first rate faculty, but the conference is set up in such a way that it is so easy to actually TALK TO THEM. And you should talk to them. Because someday, they may be reading your book to blurb for you. Or at the very least, giving you a shout out to their legions of fans when you land that agent you’ve been hunting for. Plus, they seriously know what they are doing! I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure award winning authors don’t pick Muncie, Indiana as a vacation destination. Let’s face it. There really is only corn in Muncie in July. (Watch out for wrong turns or you might find yourself in a field of it!) But these authors and professionals show up, ready to hand out knowledge to anyone who will take it. TAKE IT!
3. Agents: As we all know, a lot of agents make their living in New York City. It is the publishing mecca of the US, if not the world. But this little conference in the middle of a cornfield has gotten such a well-deserved reputation in the Big Apple that agents actually beg to come back, on their own dime. In my humble opinion, I think that’s because when they get to MWW, they find an intense group of writers who are serious about their craft and intent on being the best writer they can be. And, let’s be honest… there’s something to be said about watching a New Yorker indulge in their first taste of fried pickles.
4 & 5. This last one is so important that it warrants two spots on this list. (And my laundry is ready so I need to finish packing.) But the biggest reason why this conference rocks is the people who come to it. Five years ago, I attended MWW by myself. I didn’t know a single soul. I had no idea what I was doing (although I did know better than to pitch an agent in the bathroom) and honestly, I was nervous. When you meet me, and if you are coming to MWW, PLEASE come up and say hi, you probably won’t guess this, but I am a seriously shy person until I know you. Then, good luck getting me to shut up, so I’m getting ready for the opening session and out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of red. Thank God, another Ginger. I sit down and something amazing happens. We start talking and it was serious insta-friend. Before the end of that weekend, that duo would merge with another group of writers and before I left, I had found my tribe. My tribe who hails from 3 different states and meets twice a year to recharge our writing batteries. We have endured heart breaking losses, unbelievable professional setbacks and wonderful highs. All because we met at MWW.
To sum it up, say hey to Jama, listen to the faculty, remember agents are people, too and don’t BE FEARLESS when you approach a stranger. By the end of the weekend, they may become your people.