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Alvin C. Romer

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Literary Conferences: Do They Still Serve a Purpose?
by Alvin C. Romer   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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In light of the current economic crisis, do authors still adhere to writer's and literary conferences?

 You’d wonder whether the present economic is affecting the climate of literary festivals and conferences. Suffice it to say, industry reports and other numbers orientated entities suggests that there’s quite a bit of consternation and negativity from all aspects of patronage. Of course, there will be others giving opinionated views from lukewarm to the loquacious in varying degrees, but reality has ways of allowing you to see graphically what’s really at stake. I hear rumblings in the industry from well-placed people, veteran writers and even from aspiring authors that would like to be in the loop to live and learn the craft of writing. I’m asking the question relative to the legitimacy of conferences and if the vibrancy has waned. Are they still serving a purpose? This essay will attempt to shed light on my reasons why they STILL are needed. This, sans an official survey perhaps will be limited in subjectivity but not in scope.

I’ve always contended that the business of books and who write them will always be in vogue…I do not fear for literature, which has endured purges and maladies of all kinds. Since the advent of the internet the death of the novel popped up more often than not, along with disrespect and the irrelevance of poetry, centuries without general literacy, and every other threat that has been hurled its way. Enough people hold it dear as I do, and it is intrinsic enough to how, and what we read, even to the extent of embracing what literary conference to attend. Dedicated people will want places and events to hold dear to that which has been status quo in espousing all things literary. I don’t fear the economy or nothing else, real or imagined for whatever problems that may be perceived as problematic.  But I do fear for those young writers whose primary teaching in their craft is market-centered rather than literature-centered. I’m also worried about publishing houses that don’t do enough to cater to first-time authors and self-published authors before and after affiliation. Is it the economy or is it apathy that’s not allowing synergy to flow significantly.

Literary conferences and other industry-related venues mean different things to different people for different platforms. Let’s not forget what a conference is all about and what purpose they serve. A conference subjective to this essay is designed to provide valuable workshops for writers and allow them to interact with literary agents, publishers, and established authors. If a writer is properly prepared and have done the necessary research, they can use the opportunities presented to get their book or novel idea onto an acquisition editor's hands and from there, possibly into print. The main idea is to make new friends and contacts. As an essayist and freelance writer, a well put together conference should be comprehensive enough for me to get just enough from it to justify my time and to learn as I go. I’m aware that in the end, the choice is always personal. There are dos and don’ts to any situation to garner legitimacy. Every writer must decide what role sponsorship will take in its shaping, and to what degree that the hosts played in my being comfortable being there. Perhaps as a writer on a budget there's room for only one conference in the personal budget in any particular year. In that case, it's important to make the most out of the opportunity and plan well. Don't choose a conference simply based on convenience or whether Sally will attend. Moreover, go to a conference’s website and review the schedule of events. Many conferences have multiple workshops going on at the same time, so it's necessary to prioritize which workshops will be most beneficial to you. Also, if the writer can only afford to attend a single day of the conference, carefully choose which day to attend based on the quality of information offered. Don't stress about not being able to attend all of the workshops. Most conferences will have a "goody bag" for the attendees, so even if it's not possible to make all of the workshops, there will be informational packets in the bag that list the websites or contact information of the presenters.

So to answer the question are they still serving a purpose to serviceable to the average writer, I will answer with a resounding YES! I absolutely feel that they are, and will always be needed as adjunct fixtures to an industry that cannot survive without them to spur their bottom lines. It’s a reciprocal thing…and in my opinion it’s crucial for veteran authors to research adequately conferences that would appease their muse, and for young writers to understand the marketplace, if for no other reason than to learn the challenges inherent in building a career out of doing what they love. But trusting the market’s guidance, rather than the tangible models of literature itself, may leave them with much to un-learn. All conferences are NOT created equal, or the sponsors that fuel their vibrancy. With the many tangibles that go into making decisions to attend writer’s retreats and literary conferences, the need to use practical assessments and logical decisions will be most crucial in you doing your homework before you pay that entrance fee!

 

Web Site: The Romer Review



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