Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reflections from My First Writers Conference

By Laurie Epps
Pictured with Edie Melson

Most of you will recognize the wonderful lady to my right (your left). After attending my first writers conference, I can tell you that there were some things I was, and wasn't prepared for. I knew I'd be meeting industry professionals, but somehow it didn't register that I would also be forging friendships.

Today, I'd like to talk to you about what to expect at a writers conference.

Pictured with Torry Martin

First off, I met a sweet lady named Elle, who was ever bit as lost as I was. It was her first conference too, and we bumbled around trying to find the "newbie" orientation meetings that were supposed to help us find our way. Quite honestly, we never did find that meeting, but instead, I think I made a friend. Of course, those who know and love me will tell you, I'm not shy. Nope. Not in the slightest. That attribute came in handy because it gave me an introduction to Torry Martin. Gracious, funny, and outspoken, without his guidance, we would have never found dinner that first night. 

Our Conference Room
Things I brought, but I maybe shouldn't have: a hairdryer, half a suitcase of books to read, far too many sets of clothes, and my straightening iron for my hair. Not too bad for a girlie girl like myself.

The conference accommodations are set up just like any other mid-range priced hotel, so pack accordingly.

Some things I didn't bring, but wish I had: 

  • snacks. 
  • sugar packets. 
  • granola or cereal bars. 
  • work to be critiqued.
  • my camera. 

Here's the deal with the food items: as a conferee, they serve breakfast at 7:15 am. For us night owls, or those from the west coast, this is an especially painful hour of the day. There is a coffee machine in the room, with a pouch of coffee next to it, but only one packet of sugar. With some granola bars and that cup of coffee, it'd tide me over till lunch.

Besides that, food always has a way of bringing people together. So I recommend you bring some microwave popcorn and make a few friends.

The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is meticulously planned. They have classes, meals, and breakout sessions from 7:15 am till 9 pm at night. That makes for very long days, and that's why I believe having some of your own snacks, and learning to pace yourself are the most beneficial tools you can have early on.

But I'd like to hear your stories. What was the first day of your first conference like? What bumbles did you have? What did you bring that you wished you hadn't? What did you forget that you wish now you'd of had it with you? Join the conversation. The Write Conversation.

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell their many stories. To read more of Laurie's stories visit her Monday Morning Book Club column dedicated to writers everywhere, or her Thoughtful Thursday column dedicated to the art of Poetry at: http://1writerlaurieepps.blogspot.com


  1. Although this was not my first writers conference, this year was my first time to attend Blue Ridge. As with any new experience, it took a little while to familiarize myself w/ the campus. I only brought one book with me. Never did find time to read it. I agree it's a good idea to bring some snacks...granola bars, etc.

    1. Hey Sandy, It's Mary, filling in for Edie.

      I'm so glad you made it to Blue Ridge! Hopefully, you got a lot out of the conference.

      I also bring snack bars for breakfast in my room. :)

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

  2. Laurie, I do recognize the lady in the picture with you . . . and I admire her a great deal. My first experience with this particular conference was, terrific! Edie can tell you that I was a nervous wreck but that quickly faded as from the moment I walked through the door I met some ladies who are now friends. I'm already looking forward to next year!

    1. So glad you're planning on next year Jamie! Looking forward to seeing you there.


  3. I didn't make it this year (but hopefully will in 2014). But I remember I never did find the orientation for newbies so I often wandered around like a lost puppy. Fortunately, some helpful people took pity on me and showed me where to go.

    I learned a ton, but wasn't prepared for the rigorous schedule you mentioned.

    The friendships I made there were wonderful and I learned a TON. A wonderful I highly recommend.

    1. Hey Ellen,

      It's Mary! I hope you can make it next year!! Blue Ridge is a special place. It is a great place to learn so much.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Laurie, since I always drive to a conference, I pack too many clothes and I don't schedule down time. Can't seem to learn how to do that. lol

    1. Pat,

      I drive, too, and can't seem to pack lightly! And finding down time? Agreed. That's hard to do. But conferences are so fun!

      Thanks for commenting!