Throughout my career I attended many conferences. The primary purpose for doing so was to learn advanced skills, knowledge and techniques about my profession, so I could remain competitive and do my job well. For me, attending the SiWC provides additional value. I embrace my passion for writing and am enriched through the fellowship of like-minded individuals.
Any writer will tell you that writing is an isolated choice of career. Aside from encounters with individuals during the research phase, we spend hours parked in front of a computer. The only companionship we might have for days on end are those characters firmly installed (or not) in our head telling us where they’d like to go, what they’d like to do, and with whom they’d like to do it. Any human beings or other critters become background noise while we’re “in the zone”.
Benefits of Attending SiWC
SiWC gives us something to which we might look forward, a lifeline to sanity, a reward for pounding keys and taking cryptic notes in satchel-sized notebooks, and opportunity to learn a new way of writing that just might enhance work already done or inspire enthusiasm for taking up the quill after prolonged procrastination, an opportunity to share space with like-minded individuals and soak in mutual fervor to get us through the long hours of lonely contemplation.
Early Registration for SiWC is a Must
Early in June, I anxiously log onto the SiWC website and work my way through the application process, fearful of making a wrong choice for a blue pencil or a pitch (really, there is no wrong choice, only a wrong fit perhaps), and hoping that when I submit the information, that I will receive confirmation of a seat at the conference. In the early years, I even chose to stay at the hotel hosting the conference, even though I live only a thirty-minute drive away. I didn’t want to miss a thing! Now, however, I’m comfortable with my relationship with SiWC, and commute.
What to Expect at SiWC
The first day is always full of wonderment: glowing faces keen to meet new people or renew old acquaintances, and to learn how to improve their writing. Those who have attended at least one SiWC event know what to expect, in broad strokes, but the newbies are most fun to observe. Eyes wide with anticipation, they line up to receive their registration packages and wander into the main hall to hear the opening remarks and key note address. Those of us who have attended before adopt their zeal, excited to share our experiences.
The days are long and gruelling as attendees, presenters and exhibitors flow from room to room each day, in search of workshop theatres, authors who will read a manuscript extract and provide constructive feedback, agents and editors who will listen to pitches and, with a bit of luck, express interest in a body of work. Lunch breaks are a place to share with peers what was learned during the hours before – great new tips on how to write better! Dinners and evening entertainment are welcome opportunities to nurture and encourage and to be nurtured and encouraged, a place where laughter and inspiration are prevalent, and the energy is high.
I hasten home and unpack my backpack, setting aside my burgeoning note book for a few days while my neurons rebuild. Then, before I go in search of a well-earned nap, I enter the dates for next year’s SiWC, as well as that all-important registration date in June!
This article is written with sincere appreciation for the dedicated efforts of administration, staff and volunteers who make the Surrey International Writer’s Conference the successful event that it is…every year!