What an amazing weekend. I've been to conferences in other industries before, but have never felt the sense of community as I did in New York City. Who would've thought such a big city could create such a cozy sense of belonging?
I was starstruck at first. Come on, we're talking Steve Berry, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter here. The first day, I just sat with my jaw hanging open as they taught what they knew at CraftFest. Talk about learning from the masters. I'll just say that I have almost an entire legal pad of notes, and I didn't even make it to the conference until Wednesday afternoon. (Silly day job.)
But I was soon talking to other authors, which is totally out of character for me. I met a wonderful woman from New Zealand who is going to be my new critique partner. I met another quite nice lady from New Hampshire who practiced pitching with me. I walked up to another author (a NYTimes best-selling author, by the way) from Indiana and introduced myself. I pitched agents without soiling myself. And I went up to Karin Slaughter, one of my idols, and said hello. She even said hello back.
So what's the take-home point? Conferences are all about networking. They're not about creating a hierarchy, or about pointing out who is successful and who is not. They're about creating a tight-knit community of like-minded people who need one another to get to the next level. That's the real reason for conferences. I'll do well to remember that the next time I attend one.
Oh, and as for ThrillerFest? If I can't attend next year, I think I'll cry.