ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

Jackson Hole Writers’ Conference

on July 12, 2014

So, as I’ve said previously, a few weeks ago I was at the Jackson Hole Writers’ Conference.  Not to try to sell the book (though I wouldn’t have said no to that!) but to get feedback, advice, opinions, and build some kind of network.

The experience was fabulous, and I’d really love to go there again.  It was two and a half days of classes, talks, critiques, and talking openly about this WRITING thing.  It was fun–and it felt valuable.  The two best talks I heard were those given by April Eberhardt, who spoke about the new ways manuscripts are published.  She was very frank about the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and alternative publishing.  The other best talk was given by Cynthia Hand, who spoke about the three things needed to be a successful writer.  I thought her seminar was very informative; she talked about the skill set and also the talents and ways to fire up the passion you need to carry you through.  Since at the moment I’m in editing hell, I really loved it.

But nowhere could I find the information I needed:  what kinds of things to take to the conference?  Also, what to wear?  So here is my own in-hindsight answers to those questions.

What to take:  Copies of the material you’ve submitted for critiques.  A water bottle and a granola bar.  An umbrella.  A cardigan or light jacket.  Pens and paper.  Pages you might like to show to people.  Pages for your reading (four minutes long, last evening of the conference).  And business cards.  Although, a note about business cards:  I thought nobody else there had any and it seemed a little forward to offer them.  But as soon as I mentioned I had a card in any conversation, other people were offering them too.  It was a pretty introverted group and many of them came with friends, so it was hard to find anyone to have lunch with.  After the first day I went back to the condo and made sandwiches for my lunch.

What to wear:  Comfortable shoes.  Otherwise, people were everywhere from polos and jeans to Western wear to business casual.  There were people wearing loafers or cowboy boots or sneakers or really cute sandals.  Since I have hard-to-fit feet, my shoes were pretty much uncomfortable.  I was on my feet more than I expected to be.  Also, in Santa Fe you pretty much see western wear on both men and women, but in Jackson that seemed to be just men in cowboy boots and hats.

A little more about reading:  I’ll post the reading I gave at some point, but it was fun!  I even got some “woos” in addition to the applause.  People were very interested in what I was writing and I talked to many new people afterward.  I did have to sign up for the slot on the first day of the conference, so if you go make sure to ask.  I will also say that I felt like a complete marshmallow.  There were readings describing industrial accidents, and some fairly serious poets, and science fiction, and nature pieces.  I read about two girls going to a fraternity party!

Anyway, with everything I learned and did there, I feel like I have a lot to process.  I don’t know how people go to more than one conference in a year, although I was looking at maybe going to Denver in September.  I just have to get my husband on board…

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