My sister sent me an email about an upcoming writers conference in San Francisco. It had all the ingredients of a wonderful, exhilarating time. One problem:
I'm not ready for any writing conferences. To borrow from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" (one of my guilty pleasures), I'm tardy for the party. The finish party, that is.
I attended the Truckee Meadows Community College Writers Conference in Truckee, Nevada last year. I came with a partial draft of my manuscript in hand and even paid extra to have an editor critique my work. I was relatively new to the world of these conferences. I was woefully unprepared. The editor was kind. Supportive, even.
What I know now that I didn't know then was this: The writers who attend these conferences are done. They're looking for editors and agents to get them and their work across the transom of the publishing houses. They are there to conduct business. They're not looking for writing prompts. The agents and editors are there looking for the next hot book, the next Khaled Hosseini. The self-publishers are there to point to another avenue of getting your work out. But the underlying assumption is that you actually have some completed work to get out. The other writers were pitching and networking to beat the band. I was still learning what a pitch was.
Although my time with the editor was extremely helpful, it confirmed for me what I already knew in my heart: I needed to plaster my ass in my office chair and finish what I'd started. Then, and only then, should I proceed to the business of selling what I've got. Right now, I've got nothing. Or nothing I'd want to try to sell, not just yet.
In the meantime, I take solace in the joint website of authors Deborah Santana, Alyss Dixson, Nichelle D. Tramble, ZZ Packer, Farai Chideya, Lalita Tademy, Renee Swindle and Jacqueline Luckett entitled "The Finish Party." These authors and their writing group were featured in "O, the Oprah Magazine." Their goal: To finish. Period. Although my attempts to form and find support from a local writing group failed (the only person who consistently read my work was my sister, and she did that before the group was formed), I hope to one day have my own finish party, even if it's just me. Their website inspires me to finish. Just finish.
Maybe then I'll go pitch and shop my work. I'll be ready to do business. But just not right now. I'm still tardy for the party.