Sunday, June 24, 2012

When Size Matters

Spent four days, not counting the half day going and half day coming home, at the Southeastern Writers Association Conference. This event has been going on for three decades, and how come I didn't know about it? Well, I kinda knew about it, since a member of my local writer's group usually disappeared for a week each summer, then came back usually with some sort of award in hand. He's quiet, not a chatterer.

This time, however, I attended. 50 people. On a church retreat property overlooking a saltwater river. On St Simons Island, Georgia. Manicured lawn. Live oaks with dripping Spanish moss. Balmy breezes. Palmetto trees. Raccoon wandering without worry. Almost tripped on a squirrel.

I'm often ready to go at the end of a two-day conference, so I was concerned about four.  I'm addicted to my study, my desktop, and my ergonomic mouse and chair. But suddenly four days were gone, and we were headed into an awards presentation for the writing contest. Then it was over.

And I wished these people were my neighbors, so I could take them home.

When scheduling conferences into your itinerary, think variety. Do the large one, but also do an intimate one. You might be surprised at which you prefer, regardless of how many "big names" are advertised.

Have you been to a unique conference?

What's your favorite type of conference? Place?


Sioux Roslawski said...

My favorite conference is really a writing retreat spot. It's Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri.

The food is simple but plentiful. The grounds are lovely, yet isolated. (It's almost impossible to get a cell phone signal.) The rooms are private, simple, without any frills. No TV. No mini bar. No luxurious comforter on the bed and no mint on the pillow, either. The beds are twin, there's a desk to set up your laptop on (no wifi in the rooms, either) and you sometimes share a bathroom with the room next to you. And nothing on the bedroom walls to get you off track except a small portrait of Jesus.

Why is it my favorite? Because you get a lot of writing done there. Nothing to distract you, you have no choice. You stare at the boring cream-colored walls until finally, you get a spark and you're off.

(It's also dirt-cheap. I think a weekend runs $100 for the whole weekend, and that includes all your meals.)

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great event, Hope! I'm glad you had a good time. Thanks for reminding us not to overlook the smaller conferences.

Janet Hartman said...

Did you stay "on campus" at Epworth? Would you recommend that?

I've attended only one conference, a two-dayer in November at a NC beachfront hotel. Every minute was scheduled. I longed for a daytime beach stroll with new people I met, but that meant missing a workshop. I wondered why they bothered holding it beachfront.

The SE Writers conference sounds more to my liking.

Hope Clark said...


I did stay on campus, but they gave you ample time to do things, plus they didn't care if you missed a session that didn't apply to you. Very low key.

Nancy said...

My critique group (writersandcritters) sponsors a great small conference held on the banks of the Potomac River in Sterling, VA at a state park. Our group is for women and international, so attendees come from around the globe. I've gone to big conferences and learned a lot, but I learned a great deal at this small one, too. 25 members who share their expertise along with occasional guest speakers. We've had 4 conferences so far and #5 coming up next spring. I wouldn't miss it for anything. Yes, small conferences offer large returns.

Civil War Horror (Sean McLachlan) said...

One minus to living in northern Spain is there's no good writers conferences where I am. I do plan on attending TBEX Europe this year. It's in Girona, Spain, and is the biggest conference for travel bloggers in Europe. I should probably look for London conferences too, since they'reo nly a short floght away.