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.

Tales of a Writers’ Conference Newbie – Fears
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7 thoughts on “Tales of a Writers’ Conference Newbie – Fears

  • March 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be there too. 😀

  • March 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    To quote the inestimable Mrs. Frizzle “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

    Heading into any new environment, particularly one you’ve been thinking about for a time is intimidating. However, it is an important step to take. I’m certain you’ll do better than my first time in a librarian focus group where I mostly conversed with my two coworkers and gawked a lot at different technologies people are using.

  • March 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    You’re a trailblazer, lady. Don’t let people who don’t know any better get you down.

    You’re also brilliant. It’s a totally irrational fear.

  • March 15, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Go, you! I’ve heard some really good things about the PPWC and I’m going to cross my fingers that this year’s filled with some awesome folk. (We’ll sic the landsquid on anyone who might get you down.)

  • March 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Hugs. I hope it goes way better than you’re afraid it will, and that your fears of being an imposter are replaced over the course of the conference with the ability to stand up and say “I deserve to be here!” Go you!

  • Pingback:Tales of a Writers’ Conference Newbie – Preparation « Where Landsquid Fear to Tread

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Books by Kit Campbell

City of Hope and Ruin cover
Shards cover
Hidden Worlds cover