For a more overall description of Saturday's Overcoming Challenges program, check out Carol Bender's blog post. (Gee, her friend looks familiar to me.)
My own takeaway from this is that while I did not learn anything dramatically different, it is just so stimulating and...is the word I'm looking for comforting? I don't know... to hear other published authors speak about the work they do because, essentially, it's the work I do. For instance, recently I changed my work schedule around (again) trying to do a few hundred words of writing first thing in the morning before I do anything else. Jo Knowles talked about doing 2,000 words before she does anything else. I did not feel chagrined by the difference in wordage. Rather, I felt, Hey, I do something like that, too.
Because I'm now trying to do the writing in the morning, the journal work I used to do then has been tossed aside these last few weeks. One of the panelists talked about doing journal work in the evening. Hey, I thought. I could do that. And last night I did.
All my published writing career I have definitely been sort of a rogue element because I didn't have an agent. I cannot recall meeting other unagented published writers. However, neither of the illustrators on the panel Saturday have agents, and, it turns out, the writer I had lunch with Saturday doesn't have one, either. That was eye opening, though not what you'd call instructive in any way.
When you've been writing and publishing a while, and you've been a member of professional listservs, and you've been training and studying craft and business, you don't often find a lot of new information at any particular writers' gathering. What I look for is more of what you might call worklife connections. I was happy to find some on Saturday.