When Words Collide 2014: Compressed Edition


As I sit in front of a blank screen trying to convey all of my thoughts and feelings about the latest readercon I attended, I have to acknowledge how difficult the task is that I laid out for myself. Even giving my post the “compressed” header isn’t helping my cause. There’s so much to say! But also a lot I can’t seem to put into words –not a good thing for a writer.

I walked away from this year’s When Words Collide with an entirely different attitude than I walked away with in 2013. I don’t want to say it was a negative experience, because it wasn’t, but I didn’t come out feeling as positive as last year. Probably because I implemented all of the basic stuff I learned and am in the process of making that work. And I am not really much farther along in my career –which makes total sense from a logical point of view.

I was presented with so much information –seriously, WWC is non-stop information all the time– and I was overwhelmed very early on this past weekend. There’s so much to consider during every single aspect of writing that I started to feel dazed, and not in a good way. Information and options from the conception of an idea to drafting to editing to deciding how to publish to marketing to networking to, well, everything involving writing was thrown at me. And there is SO much.

I’m afraid it hit me pretty hard. I won’t lie, I went into the conference stressed and came out stressed. A shitty cycle if you ask me. And an exhausting one.

After a deep breathe I recalled the good: laughing with large and small groups, meeting new and interesting people, dirty ad-libs, and listening to members of my writing group read from their books, to name a few. Then there was the so-awful-it’s-hilarious, like the guy who flossed his teeth in a lecture beside me.

I’m still in the process of transcribing my handwritten notes; I took down more than I realized. Once I’m done the inspired feelings should hit me after this info overload wares off. Then I’ll have lots of insightful posts to share!

I do have three awesome things to report:

  1. Kate’s Novel Marketing panel was a hit. She rocked the room and each audience member walked away with useful information. At least I did. And she managed not to swear!
  2. I got to meet Kelley Armstrong! It was the lamest conversation, on my part, because I was so nervous and awestruck and worried about making a colossal ass of myself. But we did converse –I’m calling my mumbling points conversing, what of it?– and it totally made my day. I’m just sad she was only at WWC for one day.
  3. I survived the panel I signed up to speak on! Although I’m not sure I’ll be doing that again anytime soon.

Overall, as shocking as conventions can be, they are momentous commodities for writers in all stages. They’re not something to be wasted or looked on lightly. They’ll inspire you, terrify you, and drain you, and it’ll be completely worth it.


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  1. I felt the same way. I was really stressed before the conference because I didn’t finish something I wanted to submit, and I felt stressed afterwards too. But I don’t think I was too overwhelmed.

    I do think that my writing has improved since last year, but maybe I’m just being overly optimistic. I definitely understand conflict and motivation a lot more than I did last year.

    Seeing Brandon Sanderson was an amazing experience for me. He reignited my dedication towards the craft. I’m repeating “I dedicate the next 10 years of my life to mastering the craft of writing” in my head over and over after seeing his panel on Sunday.

    1. I don’t even know why I’m so overwhelmed! I left this year worrying about all of the aspects of publishing on top of the stress of writing. Which is stupid because I am not in any position to even worry about editing yet lol. I need to WRITE!

      That’s awesome and I’m sure you’re just being hard on yourself about being optimistic!

      I have to agree, that comment especially was revelatory.

      1. I am jealous of you all right now. ♥ When Words Collide has been on my con wishlist since Kate first told me about it, and one of these years, IT WILL HAPPEN.

        Cons always seem to be more fun – and I take more away from them – if the human interaction aspect is my focus. At least, that’s where I’ve found the most opportunities and chances to grow as a writer. Hope WFC offers a little less stress! (I’m not totally making up that memory, right? You’ll be there, and the three of us will be all together for the first time? Yes? Please?)

  2. Make it happen Melissa! It’s so much fun, just so much info, haha!

    I think you’re right, but I’ve only attended two cons and this year the people aspect was making me harried. That’s my own problem, though. I’m afraid you are making up that memory, I’m headed to Sirens this year :(. I couldn’t afford to do both and Sirens seemed better geared towards me at this stage in my writing. Boo.

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