Get Thee To A Writer's Conference

I am a natural hermit. I have Kailen, my kid, my family, and my best friend. To me my social plate is already too full. My poor mother spent my childhood trying to get me past not just my shyness but my clam-like singularity. “Don't you want to invite someone over?” She would suggest pleadingly.

Occasionally I would give in. I always had a great time with whoever Mom finally convinced me to have over. Yet Mom's struggle never got easier. I was perfectly happy here on my own. I'd just had someone over six months ago. What was her problem?

It's no surprise then that my mother was the force behind me attending my first writers' conference. Ever the believer in me, she got us a spot co-presenting on manuscript editing at the Cedar Falls Christian Writer's Workshop. While I have complete confidence in my abilities as a manuscript editor, I had small confidence in my qualifications to present on the topic. Besides my uncertainty in my status as “expert,” I have a nursing child, small funds and a deep desire to never leave home. (Seriously folks I have considered growing all my own food so I don't have to go grocery shopping.) In short I had no motivation to go. I will be forever glad Mom lent me hers.

I've been stuck with this writing thing for a while now. The actual writing isn't the problem.

100,000 words of novel, count me in!
Editing till my eyes bleed, hooray!
Building a platform to connect with my audience using social media, KILL ME NOW!

No matter how much it makes me want to cry, platform is important. There's no point in writing a book if you can't get it into anyone's hands. I've known for a while that I need to work on my platform. I started this blog and....that's it.

That's all I've done.

Intermittent posting on a blog with almost no audience.
I hate Twitter.
Facebook is tolerable.
LinkedIn and Google+ are just knock-off annoyances.

So my platform is nothing. And I didn't want to do anything about it. Social media is like having to leave your house and have a crowd of people follow you around your house at the same time.

However, something magical happens when you meet with people in person though. People infect you. You can't get it from blogs or vlogs or books. When you see a person face to face their ideas and their spirit infects yours and breeds more ideas and a stronger spirit. Ideas and spirit, the two things you want a plague of. The conference was a wonderful mixture of kick in the pants, inspiration and encouragement. I finally found my excitement about platform. If you take only one thing from this post it's this: Get get thee to a writers' conference.

Since you can't just get up and go right now, I'll share the stuff that spoke to me. I can't say this is the only good stuff, there was so much good stuff, but this is the good stuff I needed.


1) When God Opens a Door Walk Right Through

The speakers had dinner the night before the conference. Mary Potter Kenyan remembered the wisdom of her now passed writing mentor, who told her “When god opens a door walk right through.” When I heard it it was like being struck with lightening, a shock that leaves you tingling with power. How many times have I heard “When God shuts a door he opens a window,” as if God's way will always be the smaller and more difficult? The Truth is God's way is God's way, and the point is to follow it, not it's size or difficulty. When he clears the path, when he opens the door, don't hesitate to follow.

2) I am a performer.

I never thought I'd find something I hated more than math, and then along came building your platform. Tamara Clymer of Cross River Group said something that relieved me greatly, "Play to your strengths." If you aren't a social media sort, don't do social media, but don't do nothing. Do what your good at to build your platform.

I'm a writer, yes. But I was a performer first. My cousins and I put on shows our whole childhood. We'd write and record radio shows, we'd make movies using the giant home video camera, we did a Christmas pageant for our family one year (I was Joseph). I started college intending to major in theater. I hate leaving my house unless I'm heading for a stage. My speech professors comment to me at the end of class was “You have too much talent for this not to use it.” By then I knew I was going to be a writer. It was nice that he thought I had performance talent but it wasn't going to be of any use to me. I should have listened to him. I should listen to other people more often. I tell my self that all the time. I should listen to me more.

I don't have to just blog. I can use my performance talent to vlog! I'm excited about vlogging. Sometimes I'm excited about a specific blog post (now for instance). But I don't have to blog all the time. I can reach people in other ways that I am excited about. If I do one I can still do the other.

3. I do want to write articles.

I always cringed at the thought of writing an article for a magazine or newspaper. I also have always had a part of my that likes to write long pieces about living in Iowa and how much I love it. But who wants to read that? It turns out there's a whole magazine for people who want to read that. Our Iowa. I already have articles written they might want. I just didn't know they were articles. I thought they were pointless outpourings of Iowa love. I also found out I want to read  Our Iowa. Who knew?