In the Company of Writers

This weekend I went to Bouchercon in Albany, New York. Bouchercon is one of (or the) largest mystery conference in the world. It was predicted that over 1200 were there over the 3.5 days.

While much can be said about the event itself, and will be on Wicked Cozy Authors later this week, what struck me is my journey as a writer. I attended my first conference in 2003 when I went to Malice Domestic. My friend was waiting in line to send back her books (I love bag of books conferences) and she met Dana Cameron, who told her about Sisters in Crime. We both joined. That fall we went to the New England Crime Bake.

I was thrilled, overwhelmed, anxious, and quite sure I would never “get there”. Ten years later, and I am actively involved in Sisters in Crime, both regionally and now nationally. I have been to every Crime Bake since 2003, and am now on the conference committee. I have had three short stories published. I have not managed the dream of holding a book in my hand with my name on it, but the dream doesn’t feel impossible. And it has become a reality for many of my friends.

Barbara Ross, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Edith Maxwell, Leslie Wheeler, Liz Mugavero, yours truly
Barbara Ross, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Edith Maxwell, Leslie Wheeler, Liz Mugavero, yours truly

Now, when I go to a conference, I take fewer notes at panels, but I still learn. I don’t buy as many books, but my Kindle gets a few additions. Conferences are a chance to catch up with friends, and to make new ones.

There are a lot of challenges to being a writer, and success is a moving target. But here’s what I’ve learned in the past ten years:

  • Community is everything. It helps you network, it helps your writing improve, it helps you understand the business, and it helps you keep on keeping on. Find your people. And if you are a crime writer, join Sisters in Crime and/or Mystery Writers of America.
  • Success of others doesn’t diminish your chance of success. It improves it.
  • Leading a writer’s life takes time, balance, and energy. But if you keep on moving forward, you move forward. And the pace, whatever it is, is the right one.
  • Enjoy the ride.
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