I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands. This year I find myself with not one, but two opportunities that could give my writing career a real boost. Great news, right? Well, it would be, except for the fact that I only have the time and financial resources for one.
Choice One: The Surrey International Writers’ Conference
Agent pitch sessions, which provide writers with a rare opportunity to talk about their work with actual agents, in the hopes of securing representation (or at least starting the process)
Chance of learning something helpful about the industry through workshops and panels
The opportunity to meet a ton of other writers of every genre imaginable. I’ve made at least three great friends at this conference, and I’ll be able to see them again.
Source of inspiration
There is some question about whether or not work samples obtained from conference attendees are taken as seriously as cold queries. This is a huge concern, since a lot of people attend conferences in order to give themselves an edge. Here is one agent’s take on it: Most agents do ask to see whatever you’re pitching because they don’t want to hurt feelings. I am not one of those agents but most are. However, if an agent truly likes your work – she/he will say so and will remember talking to you. I can’t say whether the meetings will be worth your while but it can’t hurt to talk to agents or editors for feedback – can it? From personal experience, I can say that, while many agents requested my work at the conference, when I finally got an agent, it was through a cold query.
- It’s expensive. Taking into account airfare, cab to and from Vancouver, conference fees, food (only some meals are included), and hotel room, SIWC winds up costing me around $3,000.
- Many of the workshops and panels are repeated each year, and most of the presenters and agents in attendance are the same year after year.
- No actual writing takes place.
Choice Two: Writers’ Retreat in the Catskills with Susie Moloney
- Um…it’s in the Catskills. With Susie Moloney!
- A rare opportunity to talk about writing and work on writing with a very select group of writers (four per genre; two genres total)
- One-on-one guidance from a bestselling author
- Assuming I can get a good deal on the flight, the cost is pretty reasonable
- Source of inspiration
- No pitch sessions with agents (or is this a con? See above)
- You have to apply to be accepted, and there’s no guarantee I would be
- If people didn’t get along (a small risk, I think), it could be the week from hell
Making the Cut: Day one was tough. Had a craving for nacho chips, but I resisted and followed the eating plan to the letter. Had a horrible headache by the end of the day and (warning: TMI ahead) had to pee constantly due to all the water consumption. The workout kicked my ass. Kicked. My. Ass. Mountain climbers are brutal!
In bed at: 10:30 pm
Awake at: 6:00 am
Novel pages written: Four
Exercise: Jillian Michaels kicked my butt for about two hours.