So, yesterday I signed up to attend the Pike’s Peak Writers’ Conference, held in Colorado Springs, CO over the weekend of April 29-May 1.
I have been thinking about attending a writers’ conference for about a year and a half. I hear from fellow writers as well as agents and editors that they are rewarding experiences. My mother, who wrote for a time about ten years ago, attended several and thought they were well worth her time.
But to be honest, the idea of a writers’ conference kind of terrifies me.
I have been lucky enough over the years to find writing groups that have been beneficial and supportive, but, on some level, I almost feel like I’m not good enough. Like, if I go to this sort of thing, if I talk to other writers and agents and editors, they’re going to laugh at me.
Is this an irrational fear? Maybe. I don’t know.
I admit I’m terrified. Even filling out the registration was nerve-wracking. One of the questions asked “What is your primary genre?” I clicked on the pulldown, expecting to be able to select “Fantasy.” Instead I found myself confronted with four choices: fantasy, YA fantasy, urban fantasy, and YA urban fantasy. I write all of the above. I had to ask my collab partner and my husband for their opinions before tentatively going ahead with YA fantasy. I’m sure it doesn’t really matter, but I kind of feel like I’ve messed up before I’ve even made it to the conference.
The next question asked “What was your last published title?” I stared at that one for a long time, debating whether or not I should put Hidden Worlds. It is technically “published,” though I self-published it. Because it was through Turtleduck Press, there is a level of oversight that most self-published works don’t have, but at the same time, I’ve been on enough writing communities to know how negative most writers’ opinions of self-publishing is. For example, AbsoluteWrite‘s forums are a treasure-trove of information, but some members’ posts on the matter are so volatile, it makes me uncomfortable to be there, whether I’m discussing self-publishing or not.
What’s really pathetic about the whole thing is that I have no regrets about Hidden Worlds. Putting it out has been a fantastic experience, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of a novella that has received universally four and five stars reviews across all the platforms it’s listed on. I like having control of my own marketing and distribution. Yes, I am still pursuing traditional publishing for other projects, but self-publishing has been rewarding.
In the end, I left it out.
I don’t know why I feel like I’m sneaking into somewhere I don’t belong. I’ve been writing seriously for eight years. I have several drafts under my belt. I’ve edited and polished, I’ve researched. I’ve written queries and summaries and have been querying on and off for about a year. I have short stories in anthologies. I’m in the middle of submitting a short story to magazines and I’ve gotten several partial requests. It’s not like I haven’t done my homework. It’s not like I don’t want this. Writing conferences are supposed to be for people like me.
Yet, on some level, all those fears remain.