The Willamette Writer’s Conference was held at the Doubletree Hilton this past weekend. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet many talented new authors along with great industry professionals. And yes, for those of you waiting to know, I consider it a big success.
If you have never attended a conference before, it is not only an opportunity to pitch your project to agents, editors, and filmmakers, but also a chance to learn. This year, WWC started Thursday evening with pre-registration, classes on finding the right literary agent, conference success basics, as well as perfecting your elevator pitch, all followed up by two hours of pitching competitions. For five dollars, the competition allowed writers to stand up in front of a room full of people and a panel of industry professionals and give their pitch. Afterward, the professionals would give feedback on the pitch and the best pitch in the room (they had four rooms this year) won the money. And yes, I actually did this and it is just as scary as it sounds. But, it was an invaluable experience and an opportunity to get feedback before sitting down one on one to pitch to someone you are hoping will show an interest in your work.
The following day started off early with a conference welcome. While lingering over coffee and pastries, we were greeted by Willamette Writer’s President Jenny Schrader who filled us in on the upcoming events for the conference. After she left the podium, Willam Kenower, storyteller, author, and writers’ advocate talked about The Power of Story. This was one of the best moments in the entire conference and I’m so glad I managed to drag myself to the hotel in time to hear him. This man was engaging, funny, and insanely motivating. His words sank deep into the hearts of every introvert in the room wanting so badly to bring their story into the world. Thank you, William Kenower, for giving everyone the boost they needed to chase their dreams. You were truly amazing.
The next three days were a flurry of instructional classes, pitching to industry buyers, social gatherings, and awards ceremonies. Writing is often a lonely endeavor and being social is not the easiest for the types of people who choose to pursue it. Here, though, it was easy. The friendly faces and kind encouragement of
strangers really blew me away. I met so many talented people with incredible stories to tell and I look forward to keeping in touch with all of them and hearing how their journeys continue.
If you’ve ever considered attending a conference, quit thinking about it and do it. You won’t regret it.