Today I sent in my registration for the SCBWI's 15th Annual Eastern NY Regional Conference: Out of the Box, which will be held on Saturday, June 11, in Fishkill, New York. This conference called to me because it is only one day, there is something I'm interested in during every session, and it's only a two-hour drive from my house.
The length of conferences really is an issue for me. A weekend-long conference or retreat means taking a big chunk of time from family work and home/life maintenance work that may have to be made up somewhere down the line. Making up those kinds of work often ends up coming out of my professional work time. On top of that, being away for a weekend almost always means some kind of prep, some of which comes from...yes...professional time.
Also, having to behave myself and be nice to others and do without exercise and reading time for extended periods is very unhealthy for me and everyone around me. It is not a good idea to put myself into those kinds of situations.
I live with two other adults and we get along very well because we all go our own way in this house. At a conference, you are not supposed to go your own way. I think that's the point of a conference. You are supposed to confer.
So that's why I'm pleased to have found this one-day thing. I can be with other writers for six or seven hours, thinking about writerly things, and then I can head home to do some sun salutations and decompress. And I'll still have half a weekend for life maintenance work--clean a toilet...iron some clothes...make some cookies.
It could work.
I hear you on the time commitment thing. I want to go to BEA, I want to do as much as I can, and yet I want to spend as little time away from home as possible. If only they would arrange the author signings and sessions around my personal preferences. Is that so much to ask?
I know there's an argument that you can't put a value on rubbing shoulders and networking and all that, but I'd like to see a study that shows that kind of thing really does help sustain a career and isn't just wishful thinking.
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