I’d learned in my teen years when I was in an unfamiliar situation it would serve me well to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. So from the outset of the conference that’s what I did. The attendees appeared to know what they were doing so I watched and followed their lead. But among these seasoned writers’ conference-goers I was so invisible I didn’t even realize I was invisible. I was Mia in Princess Diaries all over again.
I got in the line at the registration table and received my folder and name tag. I noticed that many folks were getting in another line before entering the auditorium, so I again followed. When my turn at the head of the line came I realized they were putting their names on sheets for 15-minute appointments, each sheet having a name at the top; the instructions indicated these sheets were for time with editors and agents. I signed up on an editor’s sheet and made a note of my allotted time and the room number.
As others filed into the auditorium so did I. Alone among groups, I found a seat with nobody on either side. I sat, ramrod straight, eyes and ears open. Someone from the left got my attention by asking if the seat beside me was taken. I shook my head. A woman with a beautiful Texas drawl introduced herself, forcing me to speak my first words at my first writers’ conference as I in turn introduced myself.
I scanned the conference program and marked the sessions I wanted to attend. I needed to attend them all—so much I didn’t know. I did remember to work around my 15-minute editor appointment. The conference director made her opening remarks and asked for those from certain states to raise their hands. Then she said we had someone from perhaps the farthest distance attending and called my name; she said I came from Alabama with a banjo on my knee. Most attendees chuckled. Talk about a memorable introduction. She pointed toward me and I raised my hand as all eyes turned my direction. I was no longer invisible to anyone but me.
In the workshop sessions I made copious notes but also decided I’d buy the tapes since it was impossible to get it all written down. I browsed the book room and it was like Christmas morning and finding delightful presents. I saw books on all aspects of the writing craft and I wanted to devour them. I bought Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Then when the editor’s appointment time came I made my way toward the designated room and waited my turn outside the door.
In my next blog: My Writing Journey, Part 3.
Till next time ... keep on smiling