Will Travel For Words: Nice in Nice by Karen A. Chase
About five years ago, just as I was beginning to develop a writing life, I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference. Because of the airfare, it was a bit pricier for me than simply attending a nearby east coast conference, but the four-day lineup included panel discussions on nearly every topic an author should know from first drafts to PR. I knew very little about publishing as was made abundantly clear over the course of the conference.
At that conference in 2008, I took copious notes and, even more importantly, I came home and applied what I learned. Since then, I have developed good writing habits and continue to build the author platform that publishers expect us to have. I’ve learned first-hand how valuable freelance editors are to my craft. I’ve tried my hand, fairly successfully, at self-publishing Bonjour 40. I made efforts to build relationships in the publishing industry, beginning with editors and agents I met at that writing conference, and now my second book is entering the traditional publishing world (waiting, with breath held). It was at this conference where I also met Andrew Eddy, a fellow author. That conference impacted us both, moved us on to publishing, and we’ve remained friends ever since.
Fast-forward to my recent trip to France and Italy in October when my partner, Ted, and I met up with Andrew Eddy and his wife, Christiane. As we four were stumbling through France we bumped into, and then ended up having lunch with, Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larson–the husband-and-wife literary agents who founded the San Francisco Writers Conference. My writing and travel lives had crashed head-on in the south of France.
One of the first questions Michael asked me over wine was, “Tell me what you learned at our conference?” The list was long… I mentioned several of the above topics, and, as the conversation deepened, I felt relieved and a little exhausted to discover how far I had come. How hard I had worked. One four-day conference had really shortened my learning curve about an industry that was entirely foreign to me just a short time ago. True, it was because I was open to applying what I learned. However, I think investing in my writing career–in both time and money–at that conference, made me take it seriously. I didn’t want to waste it. I gave it my all.
Do I have more to learn? Yes. Always. It’s why I attend my local James River Writers Conferences and workshops, read industry blogs and websites, carry a subscription to Writers Digest, and meet fellow writers at social events. It’s why I try to sit down every day to write, most days from 9-1. My writing career needs my attention. The result? Not only has my writing improved, but I can thoroughly relax and revel in the sweetness of a nice literary chat over lunch in Nice. It proved to me that it’s not only important how far I will travel for words, but how far I am willing to go.
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of seven Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Find Karen on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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