Last September, I went to the Chicago Writers Conference (CWC) at the Chicago Public Library – Harold Washington Center.
A few things lit a fire under me last year. The first was Whitey, because that’s how he rolls. But CWC was definitely on the list. Recently Ines Bellina (CWC’s Social Media and Programming Assistant) contacted last year’s attendees asking what we were up to, so I obliged her. You her post about what we’ve all been up to here.
So, what was CWC like? After the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions at CWC 2013, I was on the phone with BK. He asked me what I thought so far, and I said it was okay, but I wasn’t sure it was worth the money. 2.2 days at CWC cost a few bucks more than my 4+ days at WorldCon in 2012, and there was a lot less programming at CWC.
“So,” he asked, “you don’t think you’d do it again?”
“Probably not,” I said.
“When are you coming home?” he asked.
“I ought to go to this session tonight. Some of the writers from the conference are reading at Brando’s Speakeasy. And Whitey says I need to network more.”
“You don’t sound that happy about it.”
“You know. Me in a roomful of people I’ve never met? At least there will be drinks and people reading, so I can look attentive, have a drink, maybe duck out if I feel too weird.”
“Okay, try to have a good time. See you later.”
Everything changed at Brando’s Speakeasy. To start with, I wandered in, probably looking as lost as I felt. There was a table full of people right by the door, and they waved me over. “You here for the readings?”
I allowed as how I was.
“Well, sit with us.”
I did. They were great people. The cast at the table changed, but all were friendly, interesting and interested. I met Mare Swallow, the conference’s founder and executive director, and worked up the nerve to introduce myself to author William Shunn. I almost felt as if I knew him from Tuesday Funk, which I attend intermittently. He was gracious and almost behaved as if he already knew me. I met several other lovely people, including Patricia Skalka, who has a mystery novel, Death Stalks Door County, coming out this May.
After finding the Chicago writing community so welcoming, I’ve gotten more serious about writing short fiction and better at reaching out to other writers. I’ve started this blog. Meeting other people who are moving forward with their writing can really motivate a person. So, yes, the conference was worth it for me. The next one is October 24-26, 2014. Maybe I’ll see you there!