David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather and a grounded pilot. He cofounded Warrior Writers Boot Camp with Kristen Lamb. You can read more of his posts at https://davwalk.wordpress.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx. This post was supposed to guest on Janice Hardy’s blogsite last Friday but was omitted due to a lack of communication.
Several years ago Kristen Lamb rode with me to Midwest City, Oklahoma, to the Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc’s (OWFI) annual writers’ conference. Neither of us had ever been to a writers’ conference before, and we didn’t know what to expect.
Since I loved traveling in my motorhome, we took it. I stayed in an RV park several miles from the conference site, using my tow car to get back and forth. Kristen stayed in a hotel adjacent to the main conference hotel.
Being a natural wallflower—come on now, surely I’m not alone in that among writers—I pretty much kept my head down. I knew nothing about any of the presenters and just selected sessions to attend based on whim. In between sessions, I wandered around the area speaking to the few people I knew, which meant those from our group.
Long ago experience in various Optimist Club offices had taught me that most conference banquet food was hardly worth eating, so I had not purchased tickets to attend those events. After the sessions were I went out to dinner alone and then back to the RV park.
Kristen, on the other hand, is the type person who can walk into a room full of strangers and know half of them in a few minutes’ time. She spent her time networking with people from all over. By the time we left, she knew a number of people from around Texas and Oklahoma. She also attended the banquets both nights, meeting more people there and letting her face become familiar to many of them.
Later in the evening, while I was sitting in my motorhome reading, Kristen was in the HQ hotel bar hobnobbing. She’d happened to sit in on a session presented by Bob Mayer, who neither of us had ever heard of, and was greatly impressed with him. Over drinks during the evenings we were there, she got to know him well enough that they became friends and regular correspondents.
When we left the conference to return home, I had gained little other than a total lack of desire to attend any more conferences. She, on the other hand, had established several friendships, including one with Bob Mayer that was to change both of our lives.
Over the next year, she stayed in close touch with him. She also developed an interest in internet social networking, partially in order to advise him on some things he was working on.
As a result of all of that, Kristen became one of the premier—if not the premier—experts in the field of social media for writers and decided to write a book on the subject. Because of her friendship with Bob, she had an inside track to get her book, We Are Not Alone, the Writer’s Guide to Social Media published through Who Dares Wins Publishing, which Bob had just established.
As a result of that, she was invited to speak to a large writers’ conference in Los Angeles. While there she met and formed a friendship with James Rollins which ended up with his introducing her to his agent, who has signed on to represent her.
Over the three plus years since the OWFI conference, Kristen has become not only a successfully published author but also and internationally known expert in the niche she has carved for herself. Her blog is read by upwards of 20,000 people each month, and she is followed by thousands on both Twitter and Facebook.
During that same three years, my main claim to fame is having co-founded Warrior Writers Boot Camp with her. My blogs are read by a few hundred people each month.
The point of all this is not woe is me or that I have no hope of success. Not at all. The point is that we writers all have opportunities to advance both our skills in our craft and our platforms as people of influence worthy to be published. We can sit in a corner, or an RV park, and let opportunity drift by, or we can jump on it with both feet and take the best possible advantage of it.
Bio: A graduate of Duke University, I spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of my career was spent in Texas, but for a few years I traveled many other states. I started writing about 20 years ago, and have six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since my retirement from insurance a few years ago, I have devoted my time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel myself.
My first conference I spent the evenings in the late night read and critiques, never quite making it to the bar. Eventually, I found my way there and met the most fascinating people! Not just writers, but folks in town for business, pleasure, whatever.
Get out of the RV, my friend. It’s okay, we won’t bite. More likely, we’d be fascinated to hear what you have to say.
It’s amazing how many introverts there are about the place. Your story is pretty amazing. I wish we could all have Kristen Lamb with us at conferences 🙂 I’m an introvert too, learning to mix but very slow about it.
I would tell you to get over it, Catherine, but I know that’s easier said than done for introverts. What’s odd is that no one who knows me would think I’m an introvert, because I’m comfortable enough to be myself around them. But in a group of strangers . . .
Actually, Bro, you and I are enough alike in that way that I totally understand your introverted nature. I too can be social, but my comfort zone is an introverted one. The definition which makes the most sense to me is that an extravert wants to be with others to relax, and an introvert finds being alone more relaxing. That’s me …. and you too, I think.
Although I haven’t yet been to a writer’s conference, I can so relate to this from my experience at similar events for my job. After attending sessions all day, the only thing I want to is have a relaxing night reading in my hotel or maybe meet a few people I already know well and don’t need to “hobnob” with for a drink. It is the introvert in me taking over. The same sometimes solitary nature that helps me write makes these things harder for me than coworkers who can network and make connections all night and actually be “charged” by the experience. When I do go to writer’s conference, I’m going to have to have a long talk with my inner introvert and tell her to let the social butterfly hiding in there somewhere come out to play : ).
Pam, I’m still hoping everyone from LLC will attend the DFW Writers’ Conference in May and that we can have some kind of get-together among ourselves while there. If others in the group would like for me to, I’ll try to get Kristen to join us. Everyone knows her online, but I don’t know how many of you have met her in person.
Slow wins the race. But wait… I learned at conference not to be cliche. 🙂 Slow is good.
Ri9ght, Karlene, unless you’re landing an airplane. Better keep the airspeed up.
I like the way you are looking at your experiences as lessons and writing about them. We all have so much to learn, and life is such a great teacher.
Thanks, Barb. Looks like at our age we would have learned them all. Sigh.
I sort of think that when we’re through learning, we are dead. Let’s keep on learning!
Don’t worry, Karlene. I may be slow, but I do learn something now and then.
David, this is an example of we all have the same doors we can go through in life. She opted to embrace the conference experience fully. You opted to not. Two different roads. That doesn’t mean the same road is right for everyone. Some like the drive down the ocean road. Others like the freeway. But… next time embrace the conference experience for all it’s worth. They’re great! The speakers are great. Bob Mayer is fantastic. So many opportunities at writers conferences. Actually… so many opportunities in life. Take them. They are the gift we receive daily for living the experience.