Early in 2012 I discovered the Conference. It was the National Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) conference in Boston. Not having an academic paper to present, I slid into the Creative Writers Read Their Work panel.
It was Awesome. I spent 4 days in Boston, with people I knew from college in attendance, and got to read one of my creative pieces in front of an audience (terrifying for me, by the way) that wasn’t familiar with me or my work or style, and got excellent feedback and acceptance. Quite a shot in the arm, confidence-wise, I must tell you.
Just a couple months ago, in February, I attended the Far West Regional PCA/ACA conference in Las Vegas (Vegas, baby!) Again, I presented an original creative piece, but this time I also had an academic paper to present. I did okay on the creative piece, but I could have presented the paper a little better. I was a little disorganized. Next time will be better. And again, I knew some of the other attendees, and got to mess around in Vegas for a couple days, so that was cool. I also met people from other universities and walks of life, which was really interesting. Pop-culture crosses all boundaries, from English to Finance to Science, everyone has an insight into some aspect of pop-culture, whether its film, music, or whatever.
The point of this is that going to conferences, any conferences, not just pop-culture, but any conferences, can only be a good thing for writers. Even if you don’t present anything, if there is one in your area, GO! Seriously. Get the program and pick some interesting-sounding panels and go and LISTEN. I promise that you will get ideas for your writing, and the creative readings may give you some insight into things you are doing right or wrong in your work.
I guess my real point is this: if you are serious about writing, you cannot do enough to accomplish your goals. It will be to your advantage to see and hear as much as you can in your field. I am trying to take this to heart. If I haven’t run people off of this blog yet, it forces me to look seriously at my work and put it out there for criticism. By volunteering to guest-blog on other sites, I am trying to improve on my ability to shift my style for the audience.
This fall, in fact, I will be attending the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association conference in Vancouver, Washington, where I will again be reading a creative piece. This will be a more “academic” audience than the pop-culture conference (not that they’re NOT academic), so the challenge to myself is raised that much more.
Push, push, push. Work, work, work.
If you want it, you have to go take it. No one is going to wrap up a writing career in a box with a pretty bow for you. Grab a box and start filling it up yourself.
Just make sure you reinforce the bottom.