I enrolled for my first ever author conference some time back when I decided I am going to take this writing thing seriously. It’s not just a hobby. It’s something I hope to do full time when I’m sixty. Although I have more than a decade to reach there, I have to start laying my foundation.
My first impression was that, this is similar to those conferences for MLM products. The founders are idolized and the people love them. The conference is for everyone, whether you are a bottom feeder or a top dog, we’re all there to get brainwashed, to believe that we will succeed, that everyone has a chance to become that Diamond / World leader.
I’ve attended one of these MLM conferences before, out of curiosity and I witnessed first-hand, how being there in person is important. I would have been moved if I were actually interested in doing it but instead, I was there because I wanted to understand how the motivational talk works.
So I took a week of my day job to attend this conference, knowing full well that the videos for all the presentations will be uploaded to YouTube and I can access them at anytime, anywhere for free. I wanted to be convinced, inspired and brainwashed into thinking, “I can do this!”
I need to be surrounded by echo chambers because writing is damn lonely. You can have all the author friends in the world encouraging you, but at the end of the day, you fight your own demons.
I know that I won’t have the discipline, nor the luxury of time, to sit down, view and process the videos if I don’t take leave from my day job and dedicate this time to hone my craft. So I did, and I was damn excited and ready to take on the world.
But I failed.
For a start, at long as I am physically present at home, I am expected to be a mom. The others at home only registered the fact that I was on leave. The part where I took leave to attend a conference virtually meant nothing to them. So I got interrupted frequently when I was trying to get some sleep, people talk to me when I’m trying to listen to the conference, I had to suffer some form of guilt-tripping when I opted for my helper to pick up my kids while I tried to sleep.
Basically, everyone just thinks it’s ok to interrupt me because I’m not doing anything important.
There is no point explaining too because it would just trigger arguments.
So, I have to find a better way to do this, and plan this better next year. I am still going to attend this every year but I’m going to do this in a manner more suited for me.
Alright, here’s all about the conference Day 1 & 2.
Day 1 of the conference was a lot of networking.
I’m an extroverted introvert, but still an introvert at heart. I didn’t think that it would matter if I didn’t meet people and make friends, but it did. I didn’t know how much it mattered until Kelly Gorman reached out to say “Hi” virtually via discord. She was attending virtually too.
I think it’s safe to say we hit off. If we both weren’t distracted by our daily duties and the vastly different time zone, we’ll have lots to talk about. I can imagine myself comfortably having my meals with her if we were there at the conference together.
Day 1 also showed me how screwed I am because I cannot switch to the Vegas time as easily as I could when I was younger. In my teens and early twenties when I was gaming heavily, playing MMORPG in the US servers meant that I had to switch to the US clock during weekends, and operate on minimal sleep if there was a huge raid I want to be in mid-week.
It was only yesterday (Day 1), that it hit me, I haven’t done this for almost two decades.
I cannot switch time zone so easily anymore. Even though I had the experience of knowing what to do, when to sleep and eat to condition my body for a quick switch, the body refuses to cooperate. I couldn’t fall asleep when I wanted to, and I couldn’t stay awake even though I downed a whole pot of coffee.
Day 2 was the actual start day of all the talks and sharing.
Initially, I was committed to a Google classroom I’ve set up earlier for authors who might have issues navigating the video links of the live feed. But later, as i offered more and more lost virtual attendees my platform to help them, I think I attracted too much attention and was warned by the admin to remove my posts.
What I was doing was not allowed.
Even though all those who’d used it found it super organized and easy for reference, and I stand nothing to gain from it. It was just a space where I listed all the links to the different talks in an organized manner. I mean, hey, I only offered because it was annoying that the virtual attendees refused to read Craig’s instructions and kept posting messages on the FB group channel to ask where is the link to XYZ’s presentation, what time is blah blah.
I just thought it’ll benefit more people out there and relieve the admin, but I’m not going to argue.
I mean, this was what I came up with to organize my links.
The organizers asked the virtual attendees to search for #presentation to look for the videos, and this was what I got when I did #presentation.
and this was originally where and how the virtual attendees were supposed to look for the live feeds to the talks they wanted to attend.
Anyway, it’s done. I offered with good intentions and i didn’t want to offend anyone as a newbie. I booted all the 38 authors I was helping from the classroom without explanation and deleted all my posts that offered my platform to help those having trouble navigating.
To credit the AV team, they put up the videos pretty fast, like after about 3 to 4 hours, the video was up on Youtube.
So, there really wasn’t any need to pay to attend virtually unless you want to be part of the chats on the live feed and you have burning questions to ask the presenters. Or, you want to contribute to thank the organizers and help offset the costs of setting up everything.
I would still pay to be a virtual attendee next year because I want to contribute to the organizers running the show.
And Day 2 was simply mind-blowing.
In my limited capacity to stay awake, I’ve watched…
1) the very motivating opening speech.
2) the inspiring high-powered author panel
seriously, those of you who are not making it (like me) and wondering whether you’ve failed as a writer, watch this!
3) got very motivated and enlightened by the charismatic Mal Cooper. New authors, you *must* watch this. We are nothing without readers, and even though far and few, I do have a handful of fans of my writing. The feeling is tops. But a handful is not enough for me to make writing a career so I need more readers.
4) how to manage an ARC team. I really, really struggle with this. By the way, if you are a reader and interested in being on my ARC team, PLEASE EMAIL ME!
That’s all I watched before I had to prepare my kids for school, take them to school, came home, and crashed.
Today, I haven’t watched anything. I’m writing this to record my struggles as a beginning author and also as part of my reflection process.
So the silver lining about not being allowed to keep the classroom anymore, is that I don’t have to keep up with providing the other authors the live-feed links. I’m going to fuck it all and go to bed, then watch the replays on YouTube after I’ve dumped all my kids in school.
Then I’ll report whether that works better for me.
Lights out for now. I’m already seeing stars.