by Lynn Blackburn
Every year when conference season rolls around, writers are faced with huge questions. Are they ready to pitch? What should they wear? Which editor/agent/author should they schedule an appointment with?
And these are all valid questions, but in the stress of the moment, the would-be conferee may forget some extremely important things. The things you either need to have on your person at all times, or at least nearby in your room or car.
I’m talking about the essentials.
- Chocolate. Not only will this make your week go more smoothly, but it can be used as an ice breaker when you sit down for your fifteen minute appointments. Remember, agents and editors are people. People with sweet tooths. (Or should it be sweet teeth? Surely an editor can weigh in on this!)
- Basic pain/allergy/tummy medications. No one wants their experience ruined by a three-day tension headache or the intestinal drama that stressing out over a critique can induce. Come prepared.
- Bandages. You do not want to bleed all over your dream agent because you sliced your finger open on your one sheet.
- Snacks. At Blue Ridge, the conference food is quite tasty, but I don’t know many people who only eat three times a day. Have non-perishables in your room for between meals. I recommend Oreos and Cheeze-Its. Healthier people recommend granola bars, bananas, and trail mix. You decide.
- Kleenex. I know of a writer who pitched to an editor with a booger hanging out of her nose. Don’t let this be you. And while we’re at it, don’t let anyone walk into that situation. If you see anything where it should not be—food in teeth, skirts stuck in waistbands, flies open—take that person aside and clue them in. No one wants to be known as “that girl who pitched to Chip MacGregor with poppy seeds in her teeth.”
- Hand Sanitizer/Lotion. You’ll be shaking lots of hands and handling lots of paper (handouts, one sheets, etc.). Baby those hands. They’ve worked hard to get you to this conference!
- Wisps. These require no water and are mess free. They are great to have on hand if you need to freshen up your pearly whites and don’t have time to return to your room for a two-minute brush. Or, if you’re like me and have an uncanny ability to dribble toothpaste on your shirt anytime you have an important meeting.
- Breath mints. True story—I picked up a pack of breath mints to take with me to my first conference. It took me three days to realize that every time I popped one in my mouth, I started sneezing. And I do not have a delicate sneeze. Take my advice—test drive your mints before you arrive. My personal favorites are the Listerine Strips because they dissolve fast and don’t rattle around in your bag. (This just in…Tums has come out with a combo antacid/breath mint…genius!)
This is hardly an exhaustive list. But wait . . . there’s more. Tune in next week as I wrap up my list of conference essentials.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.