Conversations and Connections DC: 2016

Too Long – Don’t Read: If you live in the DC area and are interested in small press/short form fiction – go.

The gory details:

I just got back from this Writer’s conference 4/23/2016. Overall it was a pretty well-run affair. It was held at George Mason’s Arlington campus by Barrelhouse. Dave Housley and his group did a good job of hosting an event that covered all things relating to small press publications and short form fiction (poetry, flash fiction, short stories).

There were two high points for me. One, the keynote speakers. This was an opportunity to get exposure to writers I would never pay a second thought to, seeing their works on a bookshelf. Palestinian families, getting in touch with one’s culture, and a hick couple with questionable criminal skills were the topics of the session. I ended up with a free copy of the later which I WILL READ because the author, Art Taylor had is in stitches.

The other high point (and my beloved writers’ group missed out on something grand) was the speed dating. This is where you get to meet with a small press editor and have them critique a few pages of your work. A self doubting author’s worst nightmare. I got mostly praise (although I always think people are secretly being paid by my parents to say nice things about my writing), but also some useful feedback. Feedback better than “this sucks,” or “ummm………………..no, no one will ever pay you for this……ever. NEXT!” So that was encouraging. I was wanting to see at least a few tears from hopeful authors whose dreams were mercilessly crushed, carrying their manuscript so strewn with red ink, it was wilting in their hands like a dead puppy; mainly because I feed off the misery of others, but alas I went hungry today.

Pros:

  • Events ran on time
  • Presenters and panel members were knowledgeable and engaging
  • Attendees were experienced, not the normal brood of “I’ve been working on this short story for ten years now, and someday I’m going to show it to someone other than my cat” people. I love you aspiring authors (as I am one), but Jesus either know that you have the passion to write, or find something else to do.
  • Lots of free and discounted books by local authors and small press
  • Speed dating – as mentioned above

Cons:

  • No food. This was noted in all the communications from the organizers as a cost saving effort, which I can’t complain about. However, this kind of sucked because the speed dating was during lunch. So I could only squeeze in three sessions instead of four. That may sound greedy, but finding professional editors to read your stuff is difficult.
  • Lack of long form (novel) sessions. I’m sorry, but novels are the bog boys of writing, the Everest if you will. I think they deserved a panel or workshop session. Hopefully these will be there next year.
  • AND AS ALWAYS – While standing in line,, I hear about another kick-ass conference next week that I cannot go to. Damn it! This note is really just so I can have three “cons.” Honestly, these guys did a great job.

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