Conference Encouragement: Don’t Take Everything So Seriously
This week I’ve been talking conferences and why we attend, how we prepare, how we present, and how we write that nasty little document called a synopsis. As I wrote each post, I remembered my first conference. Someone had encouraged me to attend, and I finally gave in, paid my registration fees, and went. Oh I’d been writing for years. I’d been writing the wrong way, but nevertheless, I had been writing. I attended the conference. About the only thing going for me was that I dressed appropriately, but so did everyone else, so no kudos for me on that one. Oh, and I did attend the classes offered. Again, though, so did everyone else.
I had heard of one of the faculty members. That was it. I should have known more. In the beginning years of that conference, it took place in my hometown: the Florida Christian Writers Conference in Titusville, Florida.
Being completely clueless, without the looks of Alicia Silverstone to back me up, I probably was singled out as a newbie as soon as I entered. I didn’t set appointments to talk about anything. I found one particular faculty member, and I ate at her table for each meal. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that unless the author is really, really, really famous, the kind of famous that all you have to do is say her name and someone in the deepest, darkest corners of Africa will call out the title of one of her books. That was this faculty member. When the person is that famous, manage to sit with that individual once, but be generous and give others a chance. I really didn’t know I should do this, and I consider myself quite mannerly.
The quick point I’m trying to make to the four, or five, or six readers who may have read the post about conference protocol this week is this: Don’t ever be ashamed of making mistakes. If I didn’t make mistakes, didn’t admit my mistakes, and if I didn’t ask for direction, I would never have learned anything. If I’d asked for direction first, I wouldn’t be writing this post today, now, would I? I still do silly things at conference, and I had to start doing those silly things somewhere. Actually, conferences can’t take the credit. My mom snapped pages of me before I could walk where I was doing silly things like trying to eat chocolate cake through the top of my head, but you know what I mean. When we go into new experiences, we’re bound to do a couple of stupid things.
When I attended my first Florida Christian Writers Conference in Titusville, Florida, little did I know that a couple of decades later, it would grow so large and move to a fantastic venue outside of my hometown. I certainly didn’t believe I’d be ask to attend as faculty and teach a small pre-conference class and to meet with authors on behalf of a wonderful publisher. After attending that conference as faculty, I was sure they’d never ask me back again. I was wrong. I was wrong again in 2015 when I was asked to teach a continuing course on fiction.
You see, most of the time I bumble and stumble my way through things. I try not to aggravate too many people in my path, and I have always tried to make a friend here or there or be a help to someone along the road. No one but those I met at that first conference and still call friends will remember my being there. Oh, my friends have reminded me of some of the stupid things I did. Of course, they’re laughing with me and not at me. I think.
Fear of making mistakes becomes a huge roadblock for some people. I’ve learned to do my best and sometimes my best mistakes make for my best stories, like the year I was sitting at a table with a new friend (she knows who she is), and I began to notice that the emcees were asking faculties members to come forward. Clearly, the faculty was surprised, by they acquiesced because it’s an awesome thing to have your picture taken with someone who has just won a conference award. However, I was not prepared to take part in that type of blessing. The panic set in. I’d forgotten to bring a dress for the banquet. My GPS and I rushed out to find a dress in a nearby town (and no I’m not the one who caused everyone to be put on lock down at a recent conference). I found a dress that day. In the history of all dresses, it is the ugliest dress ever. In my hurry to get back to the conference and prepare for the banquet I forgot one very important accessory. So while the emcees were calling out the names of faculty, I looked at the shining light. I looked at my thin dress, and I was going to giggle. Someone had to know there was a reason behind my giggle and it wasn’t simply that I am a raving lunatic. So, I leaned over to my friend and said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if they ask me to walk up there. I don’t have a slip on.” My new friend leans closer to me and said, “I was just thinking the same thing.”
Learn while you go. I remembered to bring a slip each year afterward, and this year, I was prepared when they asked me to stand with an award winner. Don’t take everything so seriously. And I hope to run into you at a conference real soon.
Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor) is an author, editor, and writing coach.
Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.