Conference Love: Algonkian Writer Conferences

May 8, 2011 at 8:50pm

It is said that if relationships don’t grow, they die. I believe this is true, including in one’s relationship with writing. There’s only so much time one can sit alone behind a desk on a laptop before staleness, fear, and uncertainty take over. Twitter and Facebook can make a writer feel more connected for awhile, but until a physical, public act is taken to acknowledge the writing, it will probably remain just a hobby.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the conferences that have been most beneficial to me as a writer, both for business and craft, and found myself getting a little sentimental about my first writing conference about seven years ago, The Algonkian Novel Workshop.

Nestled on the banks of the Potomac in Northern Virginia, the workshop took place in a cabin in the forest. I was very naive, hugely pregnant, and nervous as hell to leave my husband and young son. It meant something big: I was making a physical commitment to my writing career.

After one morning, surrounded by other writers at many different stages on their personal journeys, I knew I was home. I’d found a group of people like me who felt the way I did about words and storytelling, and the support and encouragement were exactly the foundation I needed to start a writing career.

At the conference we read sections of classics and contemporary works demonstrating craft concepts, we wrote vigorously, brainstormed and critiqued sections of our works in progress, meditated, had readings, and got one on one editorial attention. Many of the connections I made at the conference remain with me to this day.

Whether you’ve just completed a first draft of a novel or a tenth draft, the Algonkian Novel Workshop could be just the step you need to take your writing public. Attending a writing conference will not only improve your technique and force you to retreat into your work, but it marks a true growth point in your relationship with your writing.

Have you ever been to an Algonkian Conference? Do you recommend any other conferences for improving craft?