Friday, April 25, 2008


I lived in Goleta, near Santa Barbara, for ten years, writing, and never attending the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I was completely intimidated. I figured that those people were real writers. I was a bad writer, writing bad novels. I couldn't go to the SBWC! That was a famous conference! So I stayed home, ten miles away, year after year.

Then my mother wrote a book (yes, it runs in the family). She and my father lived in Santa Barbara and she thought perhaps she'd try the SBWC. She was writing non-fiction, and none of us really understood the mechanisms of non-fiction publishing. So she signed up. My father suggested I go along.

Terror. I went, but I didn't say a word. Not only was I too terrified to read my work, I was too scared to comment on other folks' work. There were some flat-out geniuses there. I heard some fantastic things read. And I heard every other rung on the writing ladder. One thing I learned immediately was that all the writers who read their work for critique were braver than I.

The next year I was brave enough to comment on others' work, and the year after that I was brave enough to read my own. And people liked it. It didn't suck. Interesting.

You have to be among other writers. You have have your work critiqued. Whatever your opinion of your work, good or bad, you might well be wrong. Find a conference. A working conference, like the SBWC. Not a "sit at the pool and drink" conference.

In two months I will be attending my tenth SBWC. I wouldn't miss it. I wish I had had the courage to go sooner. I'd be so much farther down the road than I am now.

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