Last weekend I attended the DFW Writers' Conference. I'd heard about the conference over a month ago, and had wanted to go... but kept flip-flopping on it. The conference was 10 minutes from my house, and the price was extremely reasonable, but I was too chicken to call myself a real writer and go.
Thankfully, Friday I came to my senses. (And thankfully, the conference accepted walk-in registrations.)
And you know what?
Turns out I'm as much of a poser as I thought.
I have written novels, but I have not yet taken the time to sit down and edit/rewrite any of them. I did the easy part, I vomited out a first draft. I have beautiful excuses why I have not yet done the hard part, but as pretty as my excuses are, the magical writer's elves have not yet snuck into my laptop and worked their elvish magic on my manuscripts. I don't feel I can call myself a "writer" because I haven't done the hard part of writing.
While I have not been writing/editing, I have been reading. Reading agent blogs, reading queries, reading blog posts on how to best edit your ms, so on and so forth.
The conference started with a Q&A with the agents who were there for the pitch sessions. Everything I learned in that Q&A I'd already learned in #queryfail and on agents' blogs. I even knew why the questions that were being asked were, for the most part, pretty dumb questions.
I know I'm a newbie, and I know I have a lot of work to do on my manuscripts, but I'm not a clueless newbie. And I know what I don't know, and have an idea of how to find it out.
The conference was organized by the DFW Writers' Workshop, a massively large critique group that meets, again, a hop, skip, and a jump away from my house. In order to join, you must pay a $100 yearly membership fee, which is what has kept me from going to their meetings (you can go twice for free, to feel them out, but after that you have to pay). Having met some of the members of the group at the conference, I'm much more inclined to fork over the money, especially since there are published writers in the group who write in my genres (my other crit groups don't have YA/chick-litty/women's fiction writers). And while $100 seems steep, if you think about it, with 52 weeks in a year (they meet every Wednesday -- regardless of rain, sleet, snow, hurricanes, or holidays), that's $2 a meeting. While my other crit groups don't have membership fees, we meet at Borders, where I usually spend $5 a meeting to stimulate the economy and thank Borders for letting us use their cafe (because, yes, you have to twist my arm to get me to buy that chai latte and banana chocolate-chip muffin). So, when you think about it, $100 is not that bad, is it?
Plus, if I'm paying to be in the group, that might motivate me to actually bring stuff to read...