“Never stop learning.” Who said that? Could’ve been me, but I doubt it. Let’s face it, we all get a bit rusty now and then, and need some outside influences to get us out of that writing rut, blast us out of our solitary writer’s existence and get us out there to meet other writers.
I was reminded of the quote above when I attended this year’s San Francisco Writers Conference at the Mark Hopkins Hotel on the eponymous city’s Nob Hill. And learn I did.
There were lots of experts to learn from, and entertaining and enlightening keynote speakers such as T. Jefferson Parker (whose latest novel, Full Measure, I now own and plan to read next—autographed, of course), and Annie Barrows (Ivy and Bean, a children’s lit phenomenon that looks likely to sell almost as many series books as Harry Potter). I soaked up knowledge of the writer’s craft, blogging and marketing from such luminaries as Joel Friedlander (The Book Designer http://www.thebookdesigner.com), Penny Sansevieri (Author Marketing Expert http://www.amarketingexpert.com), and travel writer and new media queen Carla King (Self-Publishing Boot Camp http://www.carlaking.com.)
Annie Barrows’ fans were the most memorable. Billed as “Big Fun for Little People,” her presentation was pitched to girls from six to nine, who, closely trailed by their mothers, all trooped downstairs to the bookstore afterward to buy and have their books autographed by a real-live author. The line stretched out the door and into the Mark Hopkins lobby, as the children patiently waited for a one-on-one with Barrows, and then, awestruck, quietly carried their books home like the treasures they surely were.
The whole conference was a high-energy affair that may not have seen so much excitement since Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev stayed there in 1961, during the Cold War, and his bodyguards had to keep sweeping his 17th floor Presidential Suite for radiation (I kid you not).
The point is…yes, I’m getting to it. The point is: it’s never too late to give your skills an upgrade. We all need to keep learning, now more than ever, as our world spins ever faster and radical changes in marketing and publishing spin with it.
So, take a class on writing, check out a panel discussion, attend a seminar, or even a webinar on writing—which you can attend in your pajamas, for pity’s sake—in your field (mine is memoir) and get those “little grey cells” dusted off and working for you now and then. I always learn something. You will, too.
Besides, you get to have good food, a little wine, meet the nicest people, and, of course, tell them about your book. Subtle hint: mine is Accidental Cowgirl, and I’d be happy to tell you about it anytime!