What Do You Get at a Writers Conference?

Several times over the course of the San Francisco Writers Conference last month, I was asked what’s in a conference for the writers-panelists. A few of the answers I gave:

  • Gets me out of my jammies before noon.

    SheWrites Lunch Table at San Francisco Writers Conference

    SheWrites Lunch Table at San Francisco Writers Conference

  • Spending a day with real people instead of imaginary ones.
  • Cred with my two sons, who are completely impressed that my photo sits on the conference homepage with R.L. Stine!

They all hint at a part of the truth, which is that writers spend a lot of time by ourselves, and we look forward to interacting with people in publishing–writers, editors, and the like. Even if they aren’t our agents or our editors or publishers, they share a love of books.

Marvelous Dialogue Panel Moderator Taylor Martindale (center) with Becky Vinter (left) and Marilyn Atlas

Marvelous Dialogue Panel Moderator Taylor Martindale (center) with Becky Vinter (left) and Marilyn Atlas

I also–and I expect this is true of most writers, or at least those of us who are having these kinds of conversations with participants at writers conferences rather than huddling in the green room–really enjoy chatting with readers and aspiring writers. Maybe they’re my readers, or maybe they will be, or maybe they read, say, horror–which I am never going to write. (I know: Never say never!) Maybe they have just started putting pen to paper, or maybe they are poised to be the next Jane Austen. I don’t suppose I’ll ever be so far away from the long years I spent struggling to be published to not have great empathy for those still finding their way.

Which is to say nothing of the teaching, which is satisfying in itself.

A big thanks to everyone who came to listen and learn, and everyone who said hello, or shook my outstretched hand. The photos in this post and below are from Saturday at the conference. I previously posted the Friday photos along with 10 Tips for Writing Dialogue (aka the Friday panel handout), and the Writing Love Stories: The Missing Handout. – Meg


  1. Laurie Lokken Reese Laurie Lokken Reese
    March 2, 2013    

    Brings back such wonderful memories! I especially love the picture of Michael Larsen – it looks like he’s blowing you a kiss. It was an inspiring, worthwhile event and I am still basking in the warmth of it.

  2. Meg Meg
    March 3, 2013    

    He is laughing! As he so often does. Such a lovely guy.

1st BOOKS is hosted by MEG WAITE CLAYTON

Read the new national bestseller, The Race for Paris, from the author of the New York Times-bestseller The Wednesday Sisters (a writing group novel). Meg has also written essays for The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Writer's Digest, Runner's World, and public radio.

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