I woke up this morning to a treat in my inbox. Patrick Todoroff wrote a blog post that inspired a blog post in me. So that’s huge; a great post AND my writing idea for the day both knocked out in one fell swoop.
I’ve been a woman for a very long time, and much of that long time I’ve also been a Christian woman. That means I’ve been invited to a lot of parties. No, not actual parties with cake and punch and good times. I don’t see many of those. The parties I get invited to are to buy things. Apparently by being friends with folks I’m obligated to take a rare free evening and go to their house for a brownie and an opportunity to buy overpriced jewelry, candles, cookware, purses, scrapbooking kits and (seriously!) sex toys. You buy the stuff and then you sign up to host your OWN party wherein you genteelly force the same people to buy something. Over and over again, these home party business schemes are how a lot of women turn the pleasure of friendship into the duty to shop incestuously.
…And that’s what writers’ conferences remind me of.
I’ve sworn off writers’ conferences, albeit preemptively. I’ve never been to one of the biggies; the closest I’ve come are the free sessions offered by the Nashville Public Library. (Note the word ::free::) But the longer I stake claim to being a writer the more I tumble to the fact that there are these events where I’m supposed to drop a lot of cash to pay other writers to talk to me about writing. In fact, many working “writers” that I know make 50-85% of their income by speaking at conferences. Why they call themselves “writers” and not “talkers” is a puzzle, actually. But the general idea seems not at all dissimilar to the women’s party circuit. I pay to hear them speak in hopes that I one day will have enough cache to be paid to speak.
Conference organisers and frequent attenders have this Godfather thing going where they tell you that a Conference is where you find an agent. That’s why many people rationalise the ever-increasing costs of attending. They’re placing several thousand dollars a year on a bet that they’ll be able to buy access to getting their work noticed. Or they’re indie writers who want the opportunity to set up a table and sell their books–sell them to other writers who buy them out of morbid curiousity (“let’s see if he’s a better writer than me!”). Those writers then hope to set up a table at the same conference next year.
I am a writer. I write things. I make very little money at it for the present, and I seriously dislike the idea of turning my calling into a giant hamster wheel wherein I buy things in order to obligate people to buy things from me. So I don’t go to conferences. I also no longer buy $20 measuring cups. The sex toys I’ll stay mum about.