I've been told conferences are a great way for writers to meet other writers, editors and agents in the business. With a nine to five, three kids, and a husband who is legalled disabled, traveling just isn't something I can do, not to mention the expense. I've never been to a conference, so I'll share my ideas of networking instead of conforming to the group topic this week.
Contests are a great way to get your work out there and get feedback from readers, agents and editors. Working in the capacity of a reader and an unpublished writer, I often volunteer to judge writing contests. By reading those entries, seeing how they are judged, I learn what mistakes not to make. It's so much easier to pick out the pov switches in someone elses work that in your own. Looking at other's work with a critical, but honest eye always gives me a fresh perspective on my writing. Then there's the benefit of reading untried stories and hearing new voices emerge.
My son asked me what I was working on the other day and I replied, "a dream". Of course he thought I was nuts, so I explained that the words on the screen were a tiny grain of sand in the writer's imagination. One she had wrapped carefully with experiences, heart, love, sacrifice and hope that one day she'd see her creation in the form of a brilliant pearl for others to enjoy. For the few moments I hold those words in my virtual hands, I see these things. Each one is unique and it's my job to examine that pearl in the light, see where it's lacking, and hand it back to the author gently so she can polish it to a shine. Some of those dreams soar and its my pleasure to help them fly.
Have a Happy Holidays everyone, no matter which you celebrate. May peace, joy, and love be yours throughout the coming year.