Here’s why I was glad I went to my first writer’s conference: I learned that professional writers, agents, and editors were real people. Because I met them in person, instead of reading their names and bios on dust jackets or websites or catalogues, I began to understand these people as I understood myself. That this, the agents and editors were just people who loved books but who had certain books they liked and didn’t like. The agents and editors disagreed about which books were good and which were not, and sometimes those agents and editors got snippy with one another about why a book was good or why a book was bad exactly as if they were just two people sitting at bar arguing about books and movies.
And I learned that professional writers, whose work I had often turned to as the faithful turn to ministers and prophets, were only people as well. Meeting them in person I could feel both their uncertainty and that very human resolve to find balance in the face of criticism and praise. That their criticism and praise might take place in the New York Times was simply a matter of degrees. In the end, praise is praise, criticism is criticism, and balance is balance.
I was grateful because I knew that I wrote books for people. Now I understood that I was sending my manuscript off to someone like myself, to a potential friend, not a soulless gatekeeper. And I was grateful because I was not a god or a prophet, I was a man who worried and rejoiced, who forgot and remembered. If that’s all writers actually were, maybe I was one them too.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.