CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When someone admits to me that they like to write, they often do so in this secretive, almost embarrassed way, like they're ashamed or anticipating ridicule.
It seems like eons ago, but I was once the same way. I was a closet writer, afraid those I worked with would find it amusing or -- even worse -- adorable that I was trying to write. It was my secret for years, yet I wanted it badly enough that I didn't stop with merely dreaming. I read books about writing, subscribed to writing-related magazines, took workshops, attended conferences. I invested in myself -- something I don't often or easily do.
One of the best of my early investments was to attend the annual West Virginia Writers Conference at Cedar Lakes in Ripley. The first year I went, I only knew one person there and clung a bit desperately to her that first day.
But I quickly discovered there's a funny thing about writers conferences: The people who attend them like to write. And as a general rule, they also tend to read. No interrogation is necessary to discover such things. If they're wearing a name badge, it's pretty much a given, so making conversation couldn't be simpler.
So what do you like to write?
Who's your favorite author?
What workshops are you taking?
It might seem that in a business as competitive as publishing can be, one would encounter nothing but backstabbing cutthroats, but that's not once been the case. Instead, those I've met during my years attending the annual conference have been quick to share their wisdom and resources and advice. The business of writing can be lonely, but conferences provide a sense of community and connection I've not found anywhere else.
This year's conference starts June 10 and goes through June 12. Can't stay the whole time? Single-day pricing is available. For those anxious about jumping in with both feet, it's a gentle way to get your toes wet.