2010 PNWA Conference Recap

My first PNWA conference was in 2009.  I was nervous and shaking every time I talked to an agent.  I scrambled from session to session, took a lot of notes, tried like crazy to organize a writing group, left exhausted at the end of the day, and was generally demoralized by the time the conference ended.  Not because the conference was bad, but because it was at that conference that I learned I didn’t know what the heck I was doing when it came to writing.  I had written a 139000 word novel (and another 169000 word novel 15 years ago, but that didn’t count anymore).  I was a writer.  What else was there to know?

Plenty.  I didn’t realize until I had multiple agents at the 2009 PNWA Conference tell me that I had a lot more work to do to go from writer to good writer, let alone to commercially successful writer.  2009 PNWA Con was the turning point for me, and I worked my but off between the 2009 Con and the 2010 to improve my skills.

The 2010 Conference was a completely different place and pace for me, and so much better.  This year, I participated in the conference.  I didn’t just go to it.  I volunteered to help out where I could.  I stayed late and went to the bar and talked with other attendees and volunteers and speakers.  I approached the agents earlier in the conference and by 4:00 PM on the second day, I had finished my pitches.  7 pitches.  7 ‘send me your stuffs’.  I targeted the agents ahead of time, knew who they were by sight, squashed my fears, and just did it.  And it worked.

I went to some of the sessions, and even moderated one, with the wonderfully witty Gordon Kirkland.  But for me, this event was more about networking than learning, though I did come away with a few lessons that should help me to write better.  I gained a few new writing buddies, and maybe a writing group will come out of it, and that would be fantastic.  But the best part of conference was the volunteering. 

They gave volunteers a special badge that showed you were a volunteer, and wearing that around the agents and editors and speakers opened a lot of doors and started a lot of conversations.  And I have to say, the work was fun too.  Extremely fun.  The other volunteers were amazing, and we bonded, and laughed and sweated together, and had a great time.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  Hopefully by the time next year’s conference rolls around, I’ll have an agent and a book deal, and I can just volunteer, and work on my marketing.  I would love to form a ring of writers that gain success from the PNWA conference and cheer each other on.  I look at CC Humphries and Bob Dugoni and Pam Binder, three successful writers in the PNWA, and I’m a little jealous of the friendship they have with each other.  I want that.  I want to be part of that inner circle of published authors who realize that getting published is just the first step, and that helping others to achieve their dream can be just as important and rewarding.

So maybe the lesson I learned this year is that helping others through volunteering returns as much to you as it does to the people you help.  I never saw it that way before.  Now I know there is something that I was missing, and like last year, it is definitely something I am going to work on.

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