The first evening of the Historical Novel Society Conference ended on a high note. Harry Turtledove gave a fantastic keynote address, which I enjoyed in the company of the clan of HNS Tweeps (twitter friends, for the less-than-TwitterLiterate among you) that I met at the cocktail hour before dinner. The table chirped (yeah, I went there) with great conversation and many laughs. No tweets were issued, primarily due to dead batteries and/or technology left in various hotel rooms, but trust me – it was a fantastic time.
One of the best aspects of writing conferences is the ability to meet and talk with other creative, inspired and inspiring people who share a common love of words, writing and stories. Our listeners’ eyes don’t glaze over when we wax poetic about the finer points of fifteenth-century daggers. We don’t have to ignore their flagging interest in all-things-heraldry. Eyes glow, heads nod, and for one brief, shining weekend we know we’re among friends.
In the words of Amanda Orr, “it’s our clan” – our kindred, our tribe.
It’s a beautiful thing to come to a conference and have agents take interest in your work. It’s a wonderful thing to learn craft. But perhaps the most-overlooked benefit is the time spent in the company of others like ourselves – aspiring, published, self-published or all of the above. In the best cases, once-strangers become friends who share the ups, the downs, and the diagonals along with us.
A popular question this evening was “What’s your goal for this conference?” Answers ranged from agents to education and everything in between. For me, it’s about people – talking with them, listening to them, and finding real friends among them. That goes for writers, agents and editors alike. After all, every one of us puts on pants the same way. Except that hopefully we use our own pants.
Anything else would be awkward.