I just came back from the Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This conference always feels like a family reunion to those of us who keep coming back year after year. I’ve been to bigger conferences with bigger names, but have never felt tempted to abandon this little gem.
First of all, it’s in a gorgeous location and is held at the most beautiful time of the year. Just driving down there is an adventure. Second, it’s affordable, since it is a non-profit conference put together by a small dedicated board whose sole purpose is to provide the annual conference. There are no other meetings. This conference is not a fund raiser for other activities – every penny not used this year is invested in making the next conference better.
Speakers are knowledgeable industry professionals. You always have a chance to go one-on-one with editors and agents. This year I visited with Daniela Rapp, a Senior Acquisitions Editor at St. Martin’s Press. She asked me to send the first chapter of my memoir. Snakes in the Kitchen has never made it to St. Martin’s before. They don’t take unsolicited manuscripts and I don’t have an agent. But, because of this little conference in Arkansas, my story will at least have a shot with a major New York publisher.
So, do I keep going back to OCW for the scenery? The shopping? The New York editors?
NO. I go back every year for the CONVERSATION. The buzz word is “networking,” and I appreciate all that word implies. But what it really means when you get down to the nitty-gritty is conversation: the old-fashioned exchange of ideas, inspiration, and confirmation that comes when writers share with and enjoy each other.