In an attempt to learn as much about the craft of writing as I can and connect with other writers, both published and those aspiring to be published, I try to attend as many writing and literary events as I can do. Sometimes finances and time are obstacles that often get in my way although usually its confidence that is the deciding factor. However, when I received information about the Dublin Writers Conference, run by Books Go Social I decided to try and be brave.
The conference runs over 3 days. Unfortunately I was only able to attend day 2. So, off I went on another little one woman adventure. Boarding the 6.45am train on a cold and damp Saturday morning. I did think that I was probably totally insane. Input from my loving husband confirmed I was but he thought I should definitely go. The train from Belfast to Dublin is just over 2 hours long and I totally adored the fact that I had 2 hours to sit on my backside and read. I loved it! It was also a great opportunity to people watch and I was inspired once or twice with ideas for short stories. Every situation it seems presents the opportunity to use my imagination.
Upon arriving in Dublin I managed to make my own way to the Gresham Hotel where the conference was being run. Finances meant that I wouldn't be spending the night in Dublin so I was determined to get as much out of the day as I could. So, taking a big deep breath I walked into the conference room by myself and found a seat at an empty table. There's nothing as big a test of bravery when you are overwrought with anxiety as walking in to an event alone, not knowing anyone. It wasn't long however before I was joined by a lovely gentleman, Brian. He asked me if I was a published writer. Well, part of my anxiety around this whole writing journey is actually telling people I write. Its around telling people I have written a book, albeit the first draft only. So, I told him I was an aspiring author working my way through the first draft of my book. It felt liberating. After that, I didn't worry about telling everyone I spoke to!
Pretty soon the conference room began to fill up and as the chairs around the table filled, other writers introduced themselves. I'll say this about the literary world...............its a damn friendly place. Of course I already knew that from the blogging world but it was so refreshing to be reminded that authors are a lovely, caring and supportive group of people. I met people from all walks of life at the conference. Such a varied and interesting group of people.
As the conference progressed, I learned so much from marketing, to self publishing to getting the book cover right. Plus, it was great to finally meet Jessica Bell. I follow Jessica on Facebook and she is a very talented lady. Over lunch I chatted to new friends about our writing and some of the difficutlies we had. At first, I was a bit worried about telling people I was a mere blogger. I always worry that authors will think that just because I read a lot of books I consider myself an authority on writing. I don't. I have the utmost respect for anyone that can get a book out into the world and not pass not with fear. I don't consider myself an expert at anything except perhaps almost throwing up with fear! I was also dubious about talking about the book tours I organise as I really didn't want it to be seen as using the opportunity to tout for business. Thankfully it wasn't perceived as that and lots of people asked for my business card. They all seemed genuinely interested.
Alas, the conference day was over all too soon. The day absolutely flew by and I have lots and lots of notes and learning to put into practice. At the end of the conference I had dinner with a couple of lovely authors with such interesting lives. The conversation flowed easily and naturally and I adored hearing about their lives. However, before long it was time to board the train for home. Another two hours of reading and writing lay ahead on my homeward journey but this time I sat on the train full of hope and inspiration about where my writing journey would take me next. It seems I am on more than a physical journey. Next year I am definitely attending all 3 days of the conference. Its a valuable learning experience and a great place to network. There were so many interesting speakers and lots of interaction between the speakers and the audience. I felt at ease and excited to be there and really took on board the advice that was being given. I loved it!
For me, the experience as a whole was very positive, strengthening my resolve to be a bit braver with my writing. Sometimes its easier to put your story down on paper than it is to share it and yourself with the world. However, the bravery is in the leap of faith you take in yourself and a trust in those around you to handle your feelings and your writing with care and respect. So far on my journey I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by good friends and a wonderful husband who encourages and supports me and pushes me to try new experiences. Next weekend I'm off to Dublin again for an author / blogger meet up and a chance to meet the lovely Carmel Harrington again. Its not easy to be brave but it is worth it.