I’m sorry I didn’t plan to participate in more than one conference this year. I’ve always enjoyed the conferences and long workshops I attended.
Several years ago, I took the bus that runs between Boston’s Chinatown and New York’s Chinatown to attend a MWA Edgar Symposium. The fare was only ten dollars but these buses have been known to crash and burn, and I couldn’t park near the bus terminals. I stayed in an unpretentious New York hotel with rooms the size of dog crates and showers designed for the underweight. The food at the expensive Symposium banquet was boring and ended with a chocolate dessert guaranteed to send a diabetic into an instant coma. I carried heavy bags of free books on the New York subway, onto the bus, and for the mile walk from the station nearest my home. Nevertheless, I had fun at the Symposium and learned much.
Michael Connolly described how, after his first book was published, he thought he’d been invited to the party and all he had to do was stand around with his drink in his hand. Soon, he realized he had to do much more to make a career from his writing.
Lisa Scottoline decided to give up being a lawyer and try to make it as a writer. She and her small daughter had to live on credit cards. Since these cards were not accepted by McDonalds at that time, she and her daughter had to eat at more formal restaurants. When Lisa finally had enough money to take her daughter to McDonalds, the child didn’t understand the menu and wanted to know what the appetizers were.
On different occasions, Robert Parker and Lee Child were guests of honor at the Crimebake Conference. The first agent to receive the first manuscript Robert Parker submitted for publication took him on as a client. Lee Child strives not to revise but to get it right first time. He amended this statement to say he reviews what he wrote the previous day before he continues. He worked for a TV production company and had to fit scenes to the second into time slots. Although he left that job, he still has an acute sense of time.
Harlan Coben mentioned that he’d never known a successful author who’d put others down to further his/her own career. All the authors whose ideas I noted discussed much more and I don’t know anyone who was bored by their discussions of their writing process.
The workshop I attended wasn’t mystery specific but I believe literary writers are just as interested in craft as genre writers. Also, no one objected to me writing mysteries. The workshop was on Cape Cod but I didn’t have time for beach walking because students had a daily assignment. Writers shared space and time with artists and sculptors. The experience stretched the mind.
I hesitated to attend conferences a thousand or more miles away from where I live. However, I note members of Sisters in Crime arrange to meet up with other members at these conferences. Hopefully, I wouldn’t have to spend time alone in a hotel room.
I avoid workshops where sharing bedroom and bathroom is part of the socializing experience. As a kid, at boarding school, in my first apartment, and as a wife and mother, I shared bedroom and bathroom. Now I want my own space.
There are still plenty of conferences and workshops to enjoy and next year I plan to attend more than one. Do you have a favorite conference?