Attend a Writer’s Conference: Connect to Your Tribe by Jacqueline Gum


There are lots of advantages to being a member of an organization like the South Carolina Writers Workshop. With various chapters throughout the state they provide a wide range of opportunities for novice writers, poets, and published authors as well. Every writer is interested in honing their craft; from novice writers to published authors and poets, too! And networking opportunities abound!

Personally, my favorite schmoozing haunts are writer’s conferences. As an author and a writer, I think one of the best things about a conference is connecting with other writers. Like minded folks whose eyes don’t glaze over when you speak to them about the “process,” or how much of yourself you instill in each character… or not. Or musing on whether munching potato chips or a cashew really does help untangle a twisted thought that you can get on paper. Maybe for you it’s licorice or chocolate. For me, a manhattan or a martini seems to have made each of the thousand queries I’ve written just a little better.

While confidence just short of bravado is how you must present yourself and your work to any literary agent or publishing professional, when in the presence of your tribe of fellow writers you can take a deep breath and maybe admit that with each rejection, you might feel like quitting. Or how is it possible that the masterpiece of a paragraph/page/chapter you wrote yesterday reads like the pages snatched from a third grade diary today? I say, blame the manhattans.

It’s only to a fellow comrade that you can divulge that very often, writing isn’t fun. That it requires every brain cell to be lit, every emotion to be exposed and raw; while at the same time being mindful that there is no tense confusion or a dangling participle hanging about the pages. Most often, it’s exhausting. Within this very special clan, you’ll see heads nodding and often hear a chorus of, “Don’t quit!!!”

It’s only to a fellow author/writer that one can confess that all of this constitutes a state of bliss. Because to the majority of the world, this constitutes crazy…needs Prozac kind of crazy.

I remember a phone conversation with one of my besties of 40 years. I was explaining my painful effort in trying to flesh out a character when she interrupted me by saying, “Uh…gotta’ go! Hubby’s home and I need to get dinner on the table.” Yet this could be an hour-long exchange within a community of writers.

Authors and writers alike often love to share. Not just techniques in writing or what rule they broke that resulted in making their novel unique; but connections with professionals – pitfalls to avoid or long jumps worth attempting; connections to other writers or writer groups, critique partners that can help you refine your work. Hell, I moved from Florida to South Carolina because of a group of writers I connected to at the Words and Music writer’s conference in New Orleans.

Two South Carolina conferences of note are PubSmart and the SCWW conference. I am but one humble founder among five who will be launching PubSmart’s inaugural conference in Charleston April 16-18, 2014. Aimed at the business side of writing, the intent is to help authors/writers/ small publishers evaluate traditional and new paths to publishing; new models that lead to smart decisions, cutting edge methods for marketing. I’m truly giddy with anticipation.

Because getting published today (without any knowledge of the business) is like trying to get hired at the New York Stock Exchange without any knowledge of what a stock is or why and how it is traded.

Then I’ll gear up for the SCWW Conference October 24-26, 2014 in Myrtle Beach where the theme Discover the Depth in Your Writing already has my creative juices flowing. I’ve been reading the updates posted by L.Thomas-Cook and see that SCWW is diversifying by adding topics for poets and screenwriters. I’m looking forward to it.

But I have to confess that a great deal of my excitement is because I’ll get another chance to connect with my tribe…maybe down a martini or two while we chat about scenes as characters and other writerly stuff.

Hope to see y’all in Charleston and Myrtle Beach very soon.


Jacqueline Gum is the author of Confessions of a Corporate Slut, a fictionalized memoir published in 2008. She blogs weekly on the theme “Where’s The Justice?” Topics range from serious (integrity) to silly (knee wrinkles).

 In addition, Jacqueline is a founding member of Charleston’s PubSmart Writers Conference and a team member of Where Writers Win’s Winner Circle; researching/vetting/documenting viable marketing opportunities for authors.

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