This past weekend, Lisa and I served as faculty at Write! Canada, Canada’s largest and best writer’s conference for writers who are Christian. Coming out, I thought you might benefit from a peek at the top 4 facts writer’s conference faculty wish attendees knew.
You probably think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. It’s that obvious.
So what are some of the factors signaling success in a person’s future?
- a willingness to learn and work hard
- questions showing an understanding of what I said
- the ability to tell me what you need my help with (or the acknowledgment you’re just starting out and aren’t even sure what your first step should be)
- evidence you did your research ahead of time (if you booked an appointment with me randomly, that’s not a good sign)
What makes these so important?
Hard work and teachability trump talent every day.
Asking questions (or taking notes) shows that you’re listening, digesting, and are likely to apply what you’ve learned later.
If you know what you need my help with, you know your weaknesses. Recognizing them is the first step in fixing them.
Researching my background and areas of expertise wasn’t difficult. It was all posted on the wall right above the appointment sign-up sheet. If you signed up with me randomly, it’s a warning sign you’ll also query agents and editors randomly.
We hope that the ones we see potential in will contact us later, even if only to tell us how things are going. I felt invested in some of the people I met this weekend, and even if I never hear from them again, I’ll be here, behind the scenes, rooting for them to succeed.
(2) There’s nothing in it for us. We don’t even get paid to be there.
Although we get a small amount for any critiques we do before the conference, it’s not enough to cover the time we spend on the critiques, let alone our time at the conference. And we don’t get paid to come to the conference (in fact, we pay to come–albeit with a discount). We also don’t have our lodging or travel expenses paid for. Monetarily, this weekend was a loss for me.
The point to take away from this is that we’ve got nothing to gain from the advice we give you. The one and only goal of our advice is to help you succeed. Take what we say seriously. We’re there because we’re experienced professionals.
(3) Our days are longer than yours.
Faculty members put in 14 hour days. On Friday alone, Lisa and I put in 17 hours, including teaching a class, an impromptu workshop, almost 4 hours of one-on-one appointments with attendees, a working lunch, a working supper, informal meetings . . . you get the picture. And unlike attendees, we can’t just take off for an hour to rest.
We were happy to do it. We hope to do it again. But it’s exhausting to always be “on.”
So what? (Yup, I could hear you asking that.)
If at any point it felt like we were brushing you off, ignoring you, belittling you, or didn’t want to talk to you, the truth is we were just tired. And since we’re human, exhaustion affects us negatively. Know that we were trying our best, and don’t take it personally.
(4) We find it overwhelming (and flattering) that everyone knows who we are.
I’m really not cool enough to be that well known. In fact, I’m geeky and clumsy and boring more often than I care to admit. (If you don’t believe me, just ask my family.)
At Write! Canada, people I’d never met knew me by sight. Few happenings in my life have been as humbling.
To all the Girls With Pens readers we met this weekend at Write! Canada—thank you. Thank you for introducing yourselves to us. Thank you for telling us how much you’re enjoying this blog.
You have no idea how much we enjoyed hearing from you and meeting you. At a time when we were wondering if this blog is worth it, if it’s doing any good, you proved to us that it is.
Now it’s your turn. What do you wish writer’s conference faculty would remember about attendees? What have you sometimes wished you could say to a faculty member?