If I were to boil down my overall takeaway of the 2016 Pikes Peak Writer's Conference, it would be: find the joy in writing. In many ways this conference was a whirlwind of emotions and full of informative workshops and inspiring personal conversations with my amazing PPWC Speculators tribe (aka "Coolest Critique Group Ever") and fabulous authors, who are even cooler in person (Carol Berg and Rachel Caine, I'm looking at you!) Among all the workshops, pitching, Read and Critiques, and networking, two things really stood out to me:
One, write for the love of writing. After really struggling to get back into regular writing and still fighting with anxiety and her sidekick impostor syndrome on a daily basis, it was really encouraging to hear authors I greatly admire talk about their own struggles and offer up advice on how to stick with it and make writing fun again. As the inimitable Rachel Caine quoted in her "Writing Fun" workshop, "creativity is not your master; creativity is your bitch."
I will need to make a cross stitch of that or something, because things like letting your brain breathe, approaching writing with the enthusiasm of a six-yer-old talking about their favorite movie, and surrounding myself with positive people have definitely things I've been working on. In the end, it really boils down to writing awesome, diverse books for the sheer fun of it and because they are awesome and deserve to be read. Inevitably, failure is going to be a part of that process, but what PPWC really drove home is that's just what it is: part of the process and the only way to deal with it is to keep writing, because at the end of the day this industry is a bloody roller coaster and we'll just have to write the new book and the next and hopefully somewhere someone will bite and we'll have fun on the way.
Speaking of fun, one realization that really hit home was just how much I have truly found my tribe in my utterly fantastic PPWC Speculators group. Workshops and networking aside, my favorite part of this conference were the multiple hangouts in various hotel rooms (and at David R. Slayton's house before and after the conference) that were spent brainstorming, practice-pitching, critiquing, debriefing or just generally nerding out about the awesomeness that is writing awesome books and having friends that are just as excited about your work as you are. It was fantastic to see pitches and pages within the group be so well received by agents and editors and to have conversations with industry professionals about diversity and #ownvoices in the publishing industry.
Besides, one of my favorite things about our loud, nerdy, and diverse group is how everyone tends to connect with others around them and from squeezing dinner conversations, to playing Werewolf in the lobby, we always get to meet so many cool new people. Through all the ups and downs that is publishing and putting your work out there, it's this group of fantastic people that often keep me going and make me happy to be a writer every day.
Ultimately, it has been a crazy whirlwind of a weekend and I'm so grateful to have been able to be a part of all the insanity. A special shoutout to Angie Hodapp, Warren Hammond, and Carol Berg, whose workshops not only were extremely well taught and hugely informative, but who are also just really, really cool people in person. Your sessions could easily have been three hours long, as my furious scribbling of notes can attest.
Oh, and of course I brought home a giant stack of books. As you do. Diving in to read already!
Anyway, that's my conference takeaway. PPWC is definitely one of my favorite conferences out there, above all for the amazing people it brings into one space. Thanks and until next time! It was definitely worth the con crud I am fighting right now. But that's what lots and lots of tea is for, right?
I'm curious if anyone has any other conferences to recommend -- if you do, please leave a comment below.
Cheers and happy writing!