My Reflections on the Southern California Writers’ Conference

What a whirlwind of a weekend! I think it’s safe to say my first conference was a success… I was so worried about the networking, but there’s one thing I hadn’t been considering: the fact that MOST of us writers are weird introverts, which means 1) we’re all in the same boat, and 2) we all already have something in common!

The workshops were amazing, the people were amazing, and the feedback was amazing! Feedback is especially important to me because although I do know a lot of writers, very few of them have the time and energy to exchange feedback on work, and every writer knows that feedback is absolutely essential, because we all have our blind spots. At the conference, there were optional read and critique groups going on all day long, and late into the night, which means there were endless opportunities to have others hear your work, and give notes!

Most of us writers are weird introverts.

My favorite read and critique session was also the longest one…  It was a sci-fi and fantasy group, but they were open to other genres, and I just went with them because they seemed friendly (and they were)! I’ve been having trouble trying to categorize my novel anyway. Currently I’m going with “Psychological thriller with a bit of paranormal peppered in.” Anyway, the workshop ending up lasting until 2:30 in the morning! I got such great feedback, and although everyone was tired, we were all so determined to push onward until everyone got their turn. It was very friendly, very helpful, and very exhausting! But 100% worth it. (Though I definitely couldn’t do that on a regular basis!)

As a result, I’m completely rewriting my novel! (Which was inevitable of course, as it was only the first draft anyway), but I’m going to take it in a whole new direction. The feedback I received both reassured me that I have a killer character with a great voice, but that the story needs to be tightened.

The workshops were varied, with topics ranging from craft (character, point of view), to marketing (creating your brand, knowing your audience), to practical tips (different types of editing services to seek out). There were also talks from published authors, editors, and an agents’ panel… Needless to say we were very busy. In fact, for most of the weekend I didn’t have time to eat! I didn’t even notice until I was back in my Airbnb!

Currently I’m going with “Psychological thriller with a bit of paranormal peppered in.”

And as for the people… I met writers on every step of the process. Some who are self-published, some of who have a traditional book deal and are yet to be released, some who are querying agents, and others like me who are still working on perfecting their drafts. What I liked though, was that for the most part, everyone was very kind and inclusive, and no one was lording over anyone else, acting superior. It was so nice to feel like I was part of a community, since writing is such a solitary endeavor.

I feel refreshed and motivated to keep writing and see this project through.

In conclusion, I will definitely be back. I feel refreshed and motivated to keep writing and see this project through. Then, I can begin to query. I’m going to sign up to go to the next conference, in 6 months, so that I have a deadline to work towards. Time to write on!

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