Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ACFW Conference: On Being A Sponge

This year's conference in St. Louis will be my fifth conference. I guess I'm somewhat of a seasoned professional.

Or not.

Like many other writers I'm an introvert. The prospect of attending my first conference was both exciting and terrifying. I'd made friends through the email loop and blogging, but what if I didn't have the nerve to talk to them? What if I end up at a table with an editor or an agent and they ask what I'm working on and I don't know what to say? What if nobody sees me?

I did find the nerve to talk to my new friends. I did end up at a table with an agent or editor and was able to talk about what I was working on. Lots of people saw me. I talked to my favorite author and she was sweet as can be. I had a great time!

A first conference experience does not have to be scary. It can be the most thrilling, exhilarating thing you've ever experienced. How?

Be a sponge.

I attended my first conference in 2007 with the mindset that I was there to have fun and learn. And that's exactly what I did. I learned new things in every class and had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I arrived home exhausted, but happier than I'd ever been in my whole life.

I still take this mindset with me every fall. I'm not there to make that first sale, or meet that editor, or talk to that agent. If God makes it happen, great! I'm there to learn and have a good time with 600 other people who know exactly what it's like to argue with people who exist only in your head. Who don't think it's weird that someone is on the floor in the corner scribbling like a madman.

I also made the choice that first year to not make any appointments. I think that was the best choice I ever made. No pressure. At least of the pitching kind. This year, I'm doing appointments. But the thought doesn't scare me because I took the time to just observe and enjoy myself.

So if you see someone looking like a sponge, it's just me, enjoying myself and soaking up everything I can. (And if I have that glazed look in my eyes that says I'm in another world--while I'm walking--step out of my way. I won't see you in time to keep from running over you.)


  1. LOL! If I'm there I'll direct traffic.

  2. You might have to! I did nearly get run over in the Dallas airport on the way home in 2007.