Did you hear? History was made this past weekend. And no, I’m not speaking in hyperbole. *smile*
Imagine a writers’ conference with high-quality speakers, matching those found at national conferences. Imagine being able to attend for a fraction of the cost of other national writers’ conferences and with no travel costs. Imagine being able to attend no matter your location, time zone, health or family issues, etc.
Okay, an online global writers’ conference. That’s been done before—Yahoo email loops, blog posts, and text chats. Where’s the never-before history?
Now imagine all that in a virtual conference center, complete with a “lobby” for chatting between sessions, a private room for agent pitches, social activities to get to know other attendees, live presentations with webcams and screen sharing, real-time question and answer sessions by microphone (or by chat box for the shy). In short, imagine an online conference that felt like an in-person conference—other than the pajamas and fuzzy slippers.
This past weekend, Kristen Lamb‘s WANA International did a “soft launch” for WANACon, the first-ever fully interactive global writers’ conference. A few of us announced it ahead of time on our blogs and social media, but we didn’t push it that hard because this was the guinea pig session. Literally.
The software TechSurgeons (led by my tech guy) put together for Kristen had never been tested for this use. He had programmers making changes less than a week before the conference and built the servers the conference ran on just a day before opening the lobby.
Yet, thanks to everyone’s hard work, from Kristen and her team to the speakers and attendees, the conference was a smashing success. (You know it’s good when New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan gushed about her WANACon speaking experience.)
The speakers Kristen brought in were national conference quality (editors, agents, ebook designers, bestselling authors, etc.), and TechSurgeons’s technology all worked. I’ll admit it. I’m filled with pride they were able to pull this off. *leans close and whispers* I was the matchmaker for the business partnership between my tech guy and Kristen.
It ended up being a very long and exhausting weekend for me (I moderated fifteen 90-minute-plus workshops), but it was worth it to see the conference come together. And stay tuned, Kristen wants to make these WANACons a regular event. (Sign up for email notifications to receive the updates.)
Kristen’s hoping to hold the next WANACon in June because the publishing industry is changing so fast annual conferences aren’t enough. What worked six months ago might not work now.
And that truth brings me to the point of this post…
What Do We Do When Advice Conflicts?
Just like an in-person conference, advice from the speakers was all over the map. One didn’t like print-on-demand (POD) at all, one liked Lightning Source and hated CreateSpace, and one liked CreateSpace and hated Lightning Source (both POD printers, if you’re not familiar with the names). Some insisted expensive options were necessary and some advocated for “cheap but good.” Some represented traditional publishing and some believed self-publishing is the only way to go.
Is there a right answer and a wrong answer? Is one of them more tapped into the future and the rest are behind the times?
We see this same problem of conflicting advice with the feedback from our critique partners and beta readers. A character that one loves another one can hate. Same with plot twists, emotional scenes, etc. Which one is “right”? Should we change that character and cut that scene—or not?
It’s enough to make us freeze up and not want to do anything for fear of making a mistake. *raises hand*
The truth of the matter is that no one knows The Ultimate Truth Appropriate For All Situations (TM). Kristen purposely invited speakers with different viewpoints so we could learn about issues from all sides. We purposely use multiple critique partners or beta readers to get more eyeballs on our work.
We know that everything in writing is subjective, and that not every reader will love our stories. Similarly, what works for one person might not work for us, whether that’s plotting a story instead of writing by the seat of our pants or self-publishing instead of querying agents.
No one else can speak for what we want to accomplish. Not for that character, that plot event, that story. And certainly not for our career.
My goals are different from the goals of other writers. My priorities are different. My lines of what I’m willing to do—or not willing to do—are different. My budget, patience, and ability to take criticism and rejections are different.
So while it’s hard to keep our focus on our situation when we’re faced with conflicting information, we have to banish our self-doubt and listen to our inner voice. Only we know what will make us happy. And our happiness is more important than what others pressure us to do.
In what areas have you struggled with conflicting advice? Do you freeze up or push forward? How do you decide what to do? Have you been to other online writing conferences before? Does the format and interactivity of WANACon sound more appealing?Pin It