DFWCON: Finding Your Tribe

Originally published July 23, 2015

By Brian Tracey

With ThrillerFest, a week-long New York City writers' conference, still in my rear view mirror and DFWCon just ahead, I've discovered everything I knew about writing conferences is wrong.

Like many writers, I approached my first conference with my perfectly practiced pitch and my carefully crafted manuscript just knowing that soon I'd be signing with the agent who would make all my dreams come true. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

After the devastating discovery that I, in fact, had no idea how to write, I became certain that the key to conferences was a focus on craft. I then packed my conference schedules full of classes. Point of view. Plotting. Character. Structure. I took them all. Craft. That was what it was all about. Still wrong.

It’s taken countless conferences from The Big Apple to The Big D, some serious trial and error, but I’ve finally figured it out.

Conferences are about finding your tribe.

It took several years before I noticed something about the people at these conferences who I'd met and grown to know along the way. They’ve become important to me. Very important. On the surface, they're not like me. Politically, religiously, racially, sexual orientation, you name it. We are different. There is, however, one characteristic that transcends it all. Something so personal, so profound, so intimate that all of those differences wash away. These people are writers.

And because they're writers, they know. They know what it's like. They know how it feels. They know the experience of having voices in their heads that won't shut up until the words appear on paper or on the screen, words that are sometimes rejected, bashed, and abused. Mostly, if not surprisingly, they want to tell you what it is like for them and they want to hear what it's like for you, even if they've already sold three hundred million books or they've yet to sell one. Because they know.

DFWCON I hope you find your agent at DFWCON. I hope you improve your craft. But more importantly I hope you choose to reach out and go find your tribe. Because when you land your agent and when you improve your craft (and those are unlikely to occur in that order), your tribe will be there to cheer you on and help carry you to the next stop in this insane journey that those voices have driven us to take. They will do this because they’ve been there or they are there or they will be there.

They do this because they’re writers.

-- Brian Tracey, DFWWW Member since 2012

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