I returned home yesterday afternoon from the week-long Santa Barbara Writers Conference! This was my second year as Coordinator of the Young Writers Program, a smaller segment of the Conference featuring special events for teen writers. This year we had 20 young writers, about double the number from last year, and I hope the program will continue to grow. I was continually amazed by the creativity, eloquence, compassion, insightful comments, and writing skills of the young writers. In a couple years they will be taking the writing world by storm!
The Santa Barbara Writers Conference is one of my favorite events of the year because I get to spend an entire week with other writers, people who "get" me. They, too, talk about their fictional characters as if they are real people. They understand the anxiety of being a hundred pages into a story and still a hundred more pages away from the end. And they, too, have experienced the magic of delving inside your own head and getting lost and finally glancing over at the clock to realize hours and hours have passed and it's now 2 in the morning. I would really recommend that every writer check out a writers conference, because along with getting feedback on your writing and schmoozing with editors and agents, you also get to meet other writers who are going through the same things you are. Writing is such a solitary and isolated endeavor that I think it is crucial to have writing friends, people who can empathize and who you trust to give you honest feedback on your work. I made many friends this week, and I am so grateful to be a part of this conference every year!