Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I "Conference Know" a LOT of People

This blog is about relationships, and mostly here I deal with intimate, close, personal ones. But conference relationships are in a different ballpark, as they say. Maybe even a different sport.

I attend a number of writing conferences each year. As a writing professional, I see attendance as part of the package for getting to be a better writer. I wrote about that earlier this week on another one of my blogs: “Why I Go to Conferences and Why You Should,Too”.

At conferences, I paste on my happy face and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. I ask what heesh writes and I express interest. I take the proffered business card and hand over my three.

Is that bragging, I wonder? Look at me! Multiple pen names! Does that seem too forward? After all this is a conference on writing historical fiction. What does my seatmate care that I write plays, short stories and novels? What interest could there be in my writing in so many genres: mystery, women’s fiction, paranormal, science fiction, middle grade biographies, oh, and yes, historical fiction set in two time periods?

My seatmate might in fact infer what I have long feared to be true of myself: dilettante!

So we dance. “Tell me your concept.” “How long have you been writing?” “Traditionally published or an indie author?” “What’s next after your current WIP?”

And then the session begins with either a single speaker or a panel. I listen. I make notes.

Session over. “Bye. Have a good conference.” Then it’s off to dance again at the next session.

Are these superficial encounters the equivalent of the one-night stand?

At each conference there is at least one person I connect strongly with. We sit and talk over adult beverages. Or we sit in some lounge area on session breaks. We sometimes find ourselves attending the same sessions and sit together multiple times. Those exchanged cards I hang onto and communicate with at least a couple of times. And of those, a mere handful have turned into what might be called professional real friends. Especially if you see them each time you attend that conference.

I find a similar pattern within my on-line affinity groups on Facebook. A few people emerge as folks you’d really like to have on your team.

Is the dance a phony social convention or is the social glue of trying to connect a value beyond the superficiality of the interaction?


  1. Interesting and very honest blog. Much of the activity at a conference is (I guess) like a one-night stand. Never thought of it that way. But I agree overall conferences are worthwhile.
    JL Greger, author of RIDDLED WITH CLUES & other mystery-thrillers

    1. Janet, you are in the genuine friend group! You're one of the best things about PSWA!