We turned the blog over to romance writer Eliza David this week to hear what she learned at CWC2016. Eliza David is the author of the Cougarette Series and numerous other pieces of writing. Check out her work on her website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
By Eliza David
When you’re born and raised in Chicago, you come to expect a lot from the city: cold winters, festival-filled summers, great art, and the occasional hot dog (slowly step away from the ketchup…).
What most amazes me about my hometown is the Chicago Writers Conference. The camaraderie and vibe of the event when I attended for the first time last year was there again this past September. As a romance author, I tend to be wary of writer craft events. I’ve lived the past two decades of my life in Iowa City, a very literary town in its own right. However, finding my fellow romance writers nearby has been difficult. Since I’m usually the Jackie Collins in a room full of John Steinbecks, I often feel like writing events aren’t the best fit for my brand of fiction.
Then I register for CWC and look forward to finding my writing kin. It never fails me.
It was hard to pick out what struck me the most about CWC because so much resonated with me during and days after the event. I’ve settled on these three standout reasons why CWC motivates me to be a better writer:
Connecting – Anyone who knows me knows that social media is the backbone of my writing brand. I live tweeted CWC on Saturday and Sunday, which gained me a little notoriety at the conference. I was stopped more than once on my way to the bathroom to get compliments about my tweets. Using social media during the event helped me connect with authors and make new writer friends. CWC is a great environment for social media because it helps you and others get the most out of sessions you weren’t in. Writer Leah Pickett led a Sunday session on social media. I followed and retweeted three new accounts (including Leah’s) because of her input and expertise.
Questioning – I try not to plan out which sessions I’ll attend, instead relying on how I’m feeling ‘in the moment’ to determine my next location. However, I made distinct plans to attend Saturday’s “Should I Write For Free?” because I’d been asking myself that very question all year. I’ve contributed pieces in the name of exposure, no matter how small. I always wondered…is this what writers do? The session, featuring freelance writers Veronica Arreola and Britt Julius, assured me that at this stage in my career (two years in), writing pro bono was commonplace. “Writing for free is a good strategy if you’re just starting out,” asserted Arreola. I connected with Julius after the session and walked away with knowledge on how to turn my freelancing into paid writing gigs in the not-so-distant future.
Learning – CWC is a great place to find a book you never knew you were seeking. That’s how I got my hands on a copy of Natalie Y. Moore’s book The South Side, a non-fiction historical account of the Chicago’s South Side (my birthplace). It was one of four books I purchased at the event and when I heard that Natalie was closing out CWC on Sunday, I made sure I got a front row seat. Moore spoke candidly about the balance she seeks to achieve between writing, working, and raising a family – a struggle I know all too well. It was refreshing to hear from a mother-writer because, too often, mothers who write are thought of as hobbyists, not legit authors. Natalie gave me hope that I can still figure out this mother/worker/writer triple life that I love living.
It goes without saying that I’ll be back at CWC in 2017. It’s too important an event to miss. I hope to see you there as well. If you need me, I’ll be in the front row tweeting.