By Claire Fullerton
My writer’s life is an insular life. Months are stretched together wherein I look for a reason to schedule opportunities outside my office, in an attempt at leaving my desk to live a balanced life. It’s not that I’m unduly obsessed with my work, it’s only that I recognize the merits of seeing a project through once I’ve started. I’ve heard it said that once one begins a writing project, it’s best to work on it every day, lest a break in the work changes one’s voice. I do write every day, yet every so often I take the opportunity to attend a writer’s conference, which does me good because it gets me out in the “real world.” Always the adventure is worth the logistics of setting aside my work, packing, getting to the airport, and staying in what feels like a beehive for three days or more.
I recently returned from the Chanticleer Reviews Conference in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is a short enough journey from my home in Malibu, California. When I received the news that my book, Mourning Dove, was a finalist in the Chanticleer contest, I reviewed the conference’s online schedule, considered that Bellingham and Malibu are on the same time zone, and decided it would be well worth my while to attend the conference.
There are great advantages to attending a writer’s conference. Everyone who attends is there for the same reason. Though authors who write in different genres are assembled, we all share the same passions and interests. Writers conferences are geared toward imparting information that pertains to the craft and business of writing. It is one thing to read about this in a book or online, and quite another to listen to individual speakers address subjects ranging from writing a series, to character development, to book marketing and promotion, and the current trends in publishing. When a personality is front and center, and the audience is invited to ask questions, a writer’s conference is a great opportunity to learn as well as compare notes about how we as writers engage with our career.
And then there’s the social aspect to attending a writer’s conference. A writer is gifted with meeting fellow authors from different parts of the country. It is typical for authors who have books out in the world to cross paths with each other on social media, and through this, relationships are formed in cyberspace yet all there is to go on are pictures. Meeting fellow authors in person solidifies a sense of writer’s community, and when a conference holds a contest, the camaraderie is intensified by an award ceremony. In the case of the Chanticleer conference, a fully-realized banquet was held in the beautiful ballroom of the historic Hotel Bellwether, and the festive, water-front atmosphere was the perfect setting to handle the suspense followed by heartfelt congratulations as awards in fourteen categories were announced.
I spent three days at the breathtaking Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham, Washington listening to one speaker after another alongside a jury of my peers. The conference was organized and eye-opening. It was a wonderful place to meet fellow authors and the information I acquired invigorated my enthusiasm for staying the course of my writing career.
Claire Fullerton is from Memphis, TN., and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a Southern family saga set in the genteel side of Memphis. Mourning Dove is the 2018 Literary Classics Words on Wings award winner for Book of the Year. It is the 2018 bronze medal winner for Southern Fiction by Readers’ Favorite, a finalist in the 2018 Independent Authors Network Book of the Year, and was listed in the International Faulkner Society’s 2018 William Wisdom competition in the novel category. Claire is the author of Kindle Book Review’s 2016 award for Cultural Fiction, Dancing to an Irish Reel, and paranormal mystery, A Portal in Time. She contributed to the book, A Southern Season: Four Stories from a Front Porch Swing, with her novella, Through an Autumn Window. Her work has appeared in Southern Writers Magazine, and was listed in 2017 and 2018 in their Top Ten Short Stories of the Year. Claire’s work has appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature; Celtic Life International; The Wild Geese, and The Glorious Table. The manuscript for her next novel, Little Tea, is a finalist in the 2018 Faulkner Society’s William Wisdom competition. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Literary Agency.