New York Writer’s Digest 2018

Yesterday I talked about Worldcon 2018 and how I was a bit exhausted going into it.  Now I’m going to talk about the event that tired me out in the first place, New York Writer’s Digest.

Before I start talking about that conference, I need to talk about my current favorite online community, #WriteFightGIFClub.  You can find us on Twitter via the hashtag, or look for @WFGHeadquarters.  It’s a good group of writers that are extremely supportive, silly, and talented.  Before I found them, I kind of hated Twitter.  Now I spend way too much time there.

One of the leaders of the group, Kelly Dowling, was telling us about this conference in New York that we should try to go to.  It has Pitch Slam attached to it, and it’s an amazing opportunity to network as well as find representation.  Ashley Reisinger committed to going, I committed to going, and before long, the whole conference became an unofficial WFGC meetup.

Melissa had been to New York City with Bryanna, and I’d been to New York City with Chris, but we hadn’t been there together.  Also, when we were there with our kids, we were there as chaperones.  It didn’t really let us explore the city on our own very much.  This conference offered us a unique opportunity to go have a little vacation and enjoy the city together.

And so we did.  The first night we were there, we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, then went and saw Hamilton.  I could honestly spend a whole post talking about the show, from the writing to the performance.  We had a wonderful time, and it was only the first night.

Then came the conference.  I’ve attended quite a few conventions.  Writer’s Digest was a little bit different than all of them.  While it was difficult to judge, I don’t think there were more than a thousand people.  If it were a convention, this would put it at the tiny end of the scale.  But this was a conference, so everything operated just a little bit differently than I was used to.

For starters, the programming was narrower.  At any given point in time, attendees could go to one of four or five presentations.  Comparing that to other conventions I’ve attended, that makes the offering seem exceedingly sparse.  While the choices were fewer, the quality of any individual presentation was higher.  Most were lead by one individual standing behind a podium and using a screen to provide slides and images that went along with what they were teaching.  Many of them had handouts.

The rooms where the presentations were held were much larger.  A panel at Worldcon this year would have been overfull with around 40 people.  In New York, the main room held several hundred people at once, and the smaller rooms held over 50.

The material itself wasn’t much different than what I’d heard at a half dozen other conventions.  Once again, I had the feeling I was attending the same college course, listening and taking notes, with no sign of ever graduating.  One thing that distinguished this conference from all of the conventions I’ve attended to this point is that this one didn’t stick to just genre fiction.

Towards the end of the conference, I attended Pitch Slam.  This is like speed dating, where I got to rotate through a large room, pitching my stories to agents and acquiring editors.  I’m going to talk more about this in a few days, but I’ll just say now that Pitch Slam went far better for me than I could have expected.

There’s quite a bit I could say about the nuts and bolts of the conference.  I enjoyed it, and I took lots of notes.  However, the thing about this trip that made it extra special was getting to hang out with my Twitter friends.  We ate together, we laughed together.  These truly are friends, and I can’t wait to see them again.

I don’t know yet if Melissa and I will attend the 2019 Writer’s Digest conference.  We might, since we had such a good time.  We had a wonderful time, and it seemed worth the money.  Soon, I’m going to have to schedule out my vacation time for next year.  We’ll see if going to New York again is in the cards.

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