What would you say if someone sent you to Disney World for an entire month? How would you describe the experience of a lifetime in just a simple blog post? Between the preparation and work leading up to the Midwest Writers Workshop and the conference itself, I feel like I have been on (a very busy) vacation for a month. Now this month is over but I have so much to say about everyone involved and what an amazing time it was.
Now, I will say this conference really is like going to Disney World in a lot of ways. The weather was so hot that I could feel my face melting off my skull and dripping down me like sweat. The lines for the buffet were so long, I could swear there was a roller coaster at the end. And I was more nervous to meet Tom Williams, Jim McCarthy, Amy Reichert, and Karma Brown than I ever was to meet Sleeping Beauty and Ariel, though I am sure that all of these authors are their very own fairy tale kings and queens (and I’m convinced that woodland creatures do Summer and Sarah‘s hair). Now besides the heat and the lines and the nerves, I had the most amazing time at this conference. I am no longer convinced Disney is the most magical place on Earth, the Midwest Writers Workshop is.
The preparation for the conference was one of the most spectacular experiences I’ve ever had the privilege to participate in. I have met some of the most driven and talented women that I am so proud to call my friends. Thank you to Rachel, Lauren, Caroline, Jama, and Meagan for being intelligent and wholly lovely women. Thanks for nothing, Amanda. But I know if I had to wait in line for hours on end at Disney World, I would want to do it with these women.
Here are some of the highlights from my absolutely magical experience:
Buttonholes. You heard me, buttonholes. This is an event where 33 of the most brilliant agents, authors, and amazing people have their own table and for 20 minutes they speak about a topic and answer questions from a small group of people. During the two hour-long buttonhole sessions, you can speak to 6 experts total. This really fosters a sense of community among the participants. Not only do you get to speak to your literary heroes with only a handful of other people, you get to intimately know those people and talk to them on the basis that everyone shares the common interest of the buttonhole topic.
Literary agents. Wowie, I tell you those agents are a force. Molly Jaffa, Uwe Stender, Rachel Ekstrom, Brent Taylor, and Lauren MacLeod are among the most impressive people in their field but in my entirely unbiased opinion, Jim McCarthy stole the show. Whip smart, magnanimous, and funny, Jim was just a delight to be around for conference participants as much as those that pitched and queried him. He has the patience of a saint and the mouth of a sailor, and there’s his comp title.
Barbara Bigger. She is the mother of conference director Jama Kehoe Bigger, a guest speaker, the cashier at the merch table, and an eternal ray of sunshine that brightened the entire conference.
The panels. Dearie me, the panels. 52 panels, not including the keynote speeches. The care taken by Jama to arrange the spaces and the facility was just amazing. But additionally, the faculty was just so fantastic. There were some of my literary idols, teaching me how to do what they do in their own novels and essays. It was one of the most life changing experiences for me.
Like a trip to Disney, the time flew by and I found myself wishing I could stay longer. I met, took pictures with, and got signatures from kings and queens. Everyone was smiling and willing to have a conversation. It was at the most magical place on Earth.