Last weekend I spent my time in Ajax, Ontario at the last OWC (Ontario Writers Conference). It was my first conference and won’t be my last. I met a lot of people, and it was wonderful getting to talk with those equally passionate about the written word as I am. I took workshops and networked. I even won something – which I will talk about in a later post.
What I wanted to share with all of you is what I learned from this short two day conference and how it has changed the way I approach my blogging/ writing.
Firstly, there are four types of people who you will run into at this sort of conference. You will have the fledgling, the braggers, the supporters, the downers, and the chosen.
The fledgling is the very young writer who is likely in high school. They are bright eyed and bushy tailed with little to no knowledge about what the writing world is like. They have fantasized on becoming the next J.K Rowling and have written in their journals about what they are going to do when they become famous. They are the quiet conference goers that hang out by the wall or nervously bring up how they are in high school when people ask what they do for a living.
Everyone as one time – no matter who you are in this list – has been a fledgling. You’re passion is driven by something inside you that makes you want to improve. You want to learn all you can from people more experienced or skilled that you are. You want to become better and be better from learning what you can from the conference you saved up for from your min wage job and birthday cash.
This conference is where you realize there are others like you and that you aren’t alone in your drive or desire to share your ideas/ world/ writing with anyone who will listen.
They – of course- aren’t to be confused with the braggers.
The braggers are those that will not shut up about their book/ writing project. They are the ones that aren’t asked about what they are writing but choose to talk about it anyway. They are either recently published and excited to share what they have accomplished or they are just wanting to tell you how great they are.
I admit – there were a couple of times I caught myself being a bragger. The difference though, I didn’t bring up my book. People asked what I wrote and if I’ve published anything, which opened the flood gates for me and I have a hard time stopping myself. I can’t help it… I want the whole world to know about P6. I’m sorry if you were one of my victims… and most of those were the people who supported me that weekend.
The supporters are those that will listen and support you. The majority of the people at the OWC were supporters. They would share their contacts and direct you to useful information regarding certain subjects. There were graphic designers and literary agents. There were other writers looking for other writers to compare notes with.
These are the people you want to surround yourself with and with luck I did. I met many people of all ages that were supportive in all sorts of ways. I’ve made contacts that will help improve my writing and networking too.
I hope I was a supporter throughout the OWC. I know I shared my self-publishing experience with people and gave them tips on how to approach different online formats. I also helped them understand the uses of blogging and how it could help their brand. I’m even sharing my notes I took through my classes in hopes of spreading more helpful knowledge to my writing group. The last thing I want to be is a downer after all…
The downers… ugh… as much as I don’t want to say these people exist – they do.
Now I don’t want to talk about these people much but they were there and it sucked when I ran into them. They are the types that will treat you like you aren’t worthy of their time. They will judge you by age, gender, genre, and consider what you’re working on not worthy of the written word.
I ran into one woman that didn’t consider YA fantasy a real form of writing. She believed that anyone could write YA fantasy because ‘it is just made up’. I’m sure she isn’t wrong but it is one of the more popular genres for a reason… so we YA writers must be doing something right.
Her choice was non-fiction and I’ll admit she is skilled but she had no right in pulling others down. The writing business is already cut throat, we writers shouldn’t be attacking one another or bring each other down.
Downers are those that consider your accomplishments worthless and your style juvenile. They will say nice things to your face and when your back is turned talk about how terrible they think your writing/ project ideas are.
I found this more to be aligned with age rather than anything else. I was the minority at the OWC. Most who were there were older or retired individuals while I am – well – not. Many older individuals changed quickly from supporters to downers when they discovered I had published something. They changed their tune from speaking to me to speaking down at me, which made me focus my attention to those supporters that still treated me as an equal.
Now, the chosen – these are the people we want to be. They are the best-sellers or world renowned authors that grace the event with their guru knowledge. They are talented and their words are like honey when we listen to them read pieces from their latest work.
Yes, these chosen are people just like us, but they are our celebrities. They are those that made it and those we want to become. They are the people we work to be and want to learn from. They are the names whispered in the hallway or the classes stuffed to the brim to learn their secrets.
There are only a few of them at each event but their presence makes a big impact.