As I continue to try to bring this horrid Crohn’s Disease back under control, my blog has gone by the wayside, primarily because I get tired of writing about Crohn’s and being sick and weak and fatigued. And I’m certain everyone is tired of hearing it.
Today, though, I at least have something different to write about. This past weekend, I got to speak at the Bridge to Publication Conference hosted by the Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Let me tell ya–that was fun! BWG treated its guests like VIPs: wonderful motel room, incredible Cajun dinner at one of the best restaurants in town, a personal driver.
The conference itself was a day-long affair, with sign-in at 7 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. Considering how I felt all the previous week–again, sick, weak, fatigued–I was amazed I made the 3 1/2 hour drive to Lake Charles Friday afternoon, and was a bit worried about making a full day Saturday, but I never had to budge except to move from the conference room to the private room where I was taking submissions for Terry Burns and Port Yonder Press–and for my speech, of course. Otherwise, I had folks hovering nearby to help me with whatever I needed. Talk about spoiled!
My speech was about the importance of freelance editors in the publishing process. I’m a firm believer in this step between self-editing and submitting to an agent or editor, to the extent that I’m on a crusade about it. Self-editing is vital, don’t get me wrong, but authors are notoriously blind to their own work. As I said at the conference, we’re married to it–we’ve reached the point where we ignore its snores because we’re so in love. A set of fresh, experienced eyes can find things we can’t. Which is why we shouldn’t skip the step of finding a good freelance editor.
Did I convince anyone? Judging from the number of folks who came to talk to me afterward, I think so–particularly the ones who were serious about getting published. There are writers who believe they know all there is to know about writing and will never believe they need outside help; there are writers who can’t justify spending the money; and then, there are writers who are willing to do anything to give themselves an advantage because they realize how competitive this industry is. This last group is the one most receptive to my message.
My absolute favorite part of the conference was meeting Jessica Ferguson in person. Jess is instrumental in my writing career–it was she who first ordered me to “study the craft” some dozen or so years ago. During all that time, we’ve been email buddies and cyberpals, but met in person for the first time Friday night. She had bronchitis, and I had/have a weakened immune system thanks to my meds, so I couldn’t hug her neck, but just meeting her and spending time with her was such an honor.
Jess has been in the business forever, from teaching writing at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, to editing and contributing to magazines, to getting published in anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Seasons of Love: Hearts, Hearths, and Holidays. She has a gift of encouragement, and I’ve been fortunate that she has used that gift on me for the past several years.
And I got to meet her finally. Happy sigh!
So my first conference experience was stellar. I just hope if I’m ever privileged enough to do another conference I’ll feel better.