Conference Preparations

22 days and counting down to the Writers’ League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference to be held in Austin June 10-12, 2011. This is my second conference, having attended two years ago when Patchwork and Ornament was named a finalist in the memoir category. This year I am presenting Change of Plans in hopes of landing an agent. One of my fellow writers on the She Writes website told me today that she found her agent at a conference, so I’m hopeful.

While I’m working diligently on my draft, making changes suggested to me by Diane Tyrel, who as a professional writer and editor has become my new best friend, I’m also working on my mindset for the conference. I have some work to do in that regard.

First, I’ve been an independent publisher for so long that I’m reluctant to go the “traditional” route, but I suspect that this reluctance is more about fear of rejection. Yes, it’s not easy to land an agent or publisher, but I haven’t really tried that hard–yet. I think that sitting down and speaking with an agent will help alleviate those fears. I’ve met more and more women who are writing successfully using agents and publishers, and they’ve actually enjoyed the process! Today, in my She Writes critique group chat, an eighth grade student joined us and wants to be in the group for the summer. I guess if she can step out of her comfort zone at her age, so can I.

Second, I’d rather sit behind a computer than schmooze, and conferences are all about schmoozing. I like meeting other writers and listening to what they’re writing about, but we are to be prepared at all times–you never know who you might meet in an elevator, and several agents have found longtime clients that way. Part of getting comfortable is to come up with a short pitch, which I’m sure I will repeat like a mantra on the drive to Austin, so that it comes out sounding relaxed. The last time I went to the conference, I stayed at a different hotel, which was a mistake since it didn’t allow me the opportunity for those chance meetings. This time, I promise not to hide out.

Finally, part of changing my mindset is letting go of the outcome. Change of Plans is my best work yet and shows a maturing of my writing skills, and whether or not I find an agent, I can be proud of this book. Really, sometimes I forget to acknowledge myself for just finishing the darn thing, let alone creating something that would appear to be both publishable and marketable. Why not just go to the conference and have a good time? Wow, there’s a concept. Maybe I’m growing after all!

I’m spending more time on the yoga mat as I prepare, even changing up my practice for this event to address my natural jitters. I’m dusting off Jeff Davis’s The Journey from the Center to the Page, which helps me connect my yoga practice to my writing practice, and I’ve downloaded some yoga classes from teachers I admire and respect. In this way, I hope to go to the conference with an open mind and heart, and a willingness to learn from the experience–regardless of whether I get what I want.

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