Writers, especially in the early stages, often feel isolated. The world of publishing can be a daunting scene to break into. It often seems, to the would-be writer, that published writers must know something they don't. I remember thinking that, and wondering if I would ever learn their secrets!
I did, of course, and you can, too. Writers' workshops are a great way to get started.
The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, a venerable and respected organization, has just announced their 2011 conference for August 4 - 7, to be held near Seattle. PNWA also offers a literary contest, with $12,000 in prize money in twelve different categories. Every entry in this competition receives two critiques, and finalist entries are read by professional agents and real editors. This is an excellent way to get your work noticed, and should you win, it's a legitimate publishing credit to add to your cover and query letters. The deadline for the contest is February 18, 2011, and more information is at pnwa.org.
Another conference, smaller but no less respectable, is Write on the River, in Wenatchee, Washington. The dates this year are May 14 and 15, with twelve workshops and pitch sessions with a professional agent. They also have a contest, with a deadline of February 4, 2011. There are more details on the website at the link above.
Editors and agents, I can assure you, care about good writing. They aren't in the publishing business for the money, but because they love good books. I often meet them at workshops like these, and I'm invariably impressed by their professionalism and their commitment to everything to do with the printed word and the fine use of language. Feeling a bit lost and alone as you try to build your writing career? Attend a workshop! You'll be so glad you did.