For about 2 years now – since I did my first NaNoWriMo – I have been thinking about attending the Surrey International Writers Conference. I had made myself a deal.
Finish the book. Attend the Conference.
And so today – with a finished book to my name – I attended my first date at SiWC. And it was everything I hoped it would be and more.
I was woefully unprepared as the conference start date grew closer. Life has been busier than usual and I simply wasn’t able to commit the time I needed to get ready. That’s how I found myself – at 10pm on Thursday night – finally sitting down to print copies of my pages, run through my elevator pitch and pick my workshops.
To say I was nervous as I drove to the venue early Friday morning was an understatement. I was literally shaking with nerves. Truth was, even with a complete manuscript, I was feeling like an imposter. Like someone was going to say “Hey you! That woman. She’s not a REAL writer!”
And on top of that, I was trying to prep myself to doing something I really hate to do…network. I usually dread that part of conferences because of the dreaded small talk. But at SiWC I was pretty sure that I could put myself out there and meet some likeminded people. It wouldn’t be boring small talk if we were talking about writing, right?
As I arrived at the room for the newbie orientation I spotted two women waiting nearby. Non-writer Kelly would have ignored them and pulled out my phone. But instead, I introduced myself, shook their hands and asked the common question “What’s your book about?”
And I am SO glad I did…because immediately I made a new friend. A lovely and talented local writer who was new to SiWC like me. We bonded. We chatted. We ordered the same lunch. It was fate.
Over the course of the first day, I made more new friends, learned an incredible amount of information about my craft, took a picture of myself with one of my favourite writers and – the absolutely best part – had not one, but TWO agents request to read my query and first chapters.
I left with my brain overflowing but totally floating on air. Can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow and Sunday.
This is my tribe. These are my people. It’s a good feeling.