For the past five days, I was at a writing conference in Muncie, Indiana, called the Midwest Writers Workshop (known on Twitter as #MWW15). This is my third year attending, and, as always, it was an amazing, emotional, exhausting experience. I came home groggy and craving caffeine, but fired up to tackle my revisions.
For me, some of this year’s MWW highlights included:
- Taking a fabulous intensive class on incorporating real life events into YA fiction, led by the brilliant and hilarious Christa Desir, in which I learned that even the stupidest, what-was-I-thinking moments of my youth could be used to create great stories.
- Attending a group viewing of “Sharknado 3,” hosted by Summer Heacock (aka @Fizzygrrl), who frequently coordinates Friday night Twitter parties in which we watch and live-tweet good/bad movies (this spring, we did ALL the Twilight films). Trust me when I say there’s nothing like watching an epically bad movie with a bunch of snarky writers.
- Listening to agents and editors talk passionately about books their clients have written or books they love (including an intense discussion/debate about the Harry Potter series) and realizing that they’re the biggest book nerds ever (which is pretty awesome).
- Celebrating friends’ accomplishments: debut novels, upcoming releases, offers of representation, full requests, kick-ass story ideas, and successful pitches at MWW.
- Listening to my friend, Mark Benson (@WaysideWriter) give a talk on pitches, in which he told the audience that it took him 385 queries, and multiple manuscripts, to land an agent, and realizing, once again, that perseverance is key when it comes to writing success.
- Being inspired by the final keynote address, given by the Query Shark (@Janet_Reid), whose blog I’ve been following for years. The theme of her talk: “Yeah, I can do that,” reminded me that you have to keep going, no matter how tough the industry is. The only way to succeed is to say “yes” – to revisions, rewrites, new story ideas, and new challenges, no matter how daunting they seem.
If you’ve ever considered coming to a writing conference in the Midwest, I encourage you to consider MWW. For its size, (this year’s capacity was ~ 250 people) it has an amazing sense of community. For three nights of the conference, numerous attendees (first-timers, fledgling writers, published authors, agents, and editors) congregated on a outdoor patio at a sports bar near the hotel and mingled freely. At any given time during the day, people sat in the atrium of the conference center (the BSU Alumni Center) and hung out–talking, brainstorming, offering pitch advice, drinking coffee, and bonding.
Coming to Muncie, Indiana in the middle of the summer may not seem like a vacation, but for me, it was like the best writers’ summer camp ever.