SFWC13, or How I Spent my Weekend, by Xian

Last Sunday capped an amazing weekend, and this post is going to be gushy. Having spent a year writing a novel, I attended the 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference. It wasn’t free, but damned if it wasn’t money well-spent. Three days of enthusiastic people, brilliant speakers, good advice, thoughtful writers with a dream in their heart… It was energizing and inspiring. I was burned out at the end of each day, but wishing it could somehow keep going.

The scene was the Mark Hopkins, the penultimately pricy Nob Hill hotel. The players were (from my unscientific observations) easily 50% non-fiction writers, and something like 70% female, numbering several hundred, at least. There were people looking to pitch the next great business book, like “What Color is Your Cheese?” or “Seven Highly Effective Ways to Find Where Your Cheese was Moved”, etc. There were people pitching precious novels of every genre, novels they’d poured their heart into and slaved over. I knew how they felt.

I mostly stayed on the unofficial “novelist track” when it came to the seminars, attending 45-minute panel discussions and presentations about characterization, plot, and dialog. There was also a lot of good information about building a community of fans and effectively promoting your work. The keynote speakers were wonderful and engaging—R. L. Stine is as funny as a stand-up comic, Bella Andre is a human dynamo, and Guy Kawasaki is…well, if you know who he is, then you know. (He’s great.)

I practiced my agent pitch by “trading” with other writers. Everyone liked the pitch. Everyone liked the title. Everyone who read some of the prologue and first chapter liked it, and wanted more. And finally, the agent who would be the best fit for me liked the pitch enough to ask for pages and a synopsis. After the nerves and jitters that came from distilling to a minute or so the product of much time and effort, it all came off better than I dared to hope.

Who knows what the future will bring? Even if nothing major comes of these efforts, I’ll still keep putting up chapters for you to read. I’ll still keep writing—it’s something that I need to do, something I love, and something that I must continue for those fans who will kill me if I stop. And I hope my future holds more great conversations with all the new and interesting people I met this weekend.