Saturday, October 11, 2008

Conference tips #17 to 20


The back's not better, so I might as well keep going...

(PLease note that these tips were contributed by conference-goers and do not necessarily represent my views, nor are they the official views of the conference. But keep 'em coming...)

#17: Re. laptops (this one comes from a surreywriters poster)
A simple "Do you mind if I use my laptop?" is really sufficient, in my books. You have all paid the same amount to attend and there is no "right or wrong" way to take notes. Be considerate- absolutely! But don't feel constrained by the person next to you. I have an Alpha smart that I use only for conferences. I get to class early -tell the people as they are sitting next to me , "I'm taking notes on an Alphie and the keys click as I type, in case that might bother you" then it's their choice to sit down or not. Some people cannot takes notes unless they are typing, for various reasons, and we all need to share our space. So be courteous and considerate but don't let anyone make you feel bad for doing what you need to do (within reason :)) to get the most out of your conference experience.

#18 : Take a Break
From long-time conference attendee Pam Kent, who attended the first one ever, held in a Surrey high school with presenter Jack Hodgins.)
Don't be afraid to take a break and wander the halls. Often presenters are just sitting there, between gigs and are happy to talk to you. Besides, a break will refresh you and you'll take more in at the next workshop.

#19: Invading spaces
From Penny Duane, Bard's Ink writer's group maven, lo these many years.
I know this is a classroom/workshop type of three day period and space-wise it is going to be cramped. When you are in a workshop please realize this. We are all in this together, tightly. Your little idiosyncrasies could possibly drive someone to distraction. Consider the following

Annoying habits
- The person sitting next to you constantly clicking their pen. I have suddenly caught myself doing this and am sure the person sitting next to me would have liked to have ripped the pen from my hand.
Perfume/aftershave - You do not need it. Don't force the person sitting beside you to breath shallowly while trying to take notes. Not nice. For this type of closed space scenario it is uncalled for. Save the fumes for after the conference is over. Everyone will thank you.
Laptops/notebooks. I am impressed that you can type that fast in taking notes, but the hum/beeping/clicking of keys/movement on screen, can be really exasperating. If you can't do without your computer for the three days please sit to the side out of smacking range.
Cellphones - Turn them off while in a workshop. The sudden ring or musical interlude is annoying and embarrassing to the people sitting beside you and to the presenter. If you have to have it with you and it has to be on in case of an emergency, put it on vibrate only and stick it in an inside pocket. If it goes off, leave the workshop to answer.
Eating in workshop - next time get up earlier. Or if you had to run to an editor's/agent's appointment eat the food outside the workshop and then enter. No one needs to hear you masticate. As for gum chewing, remember you are sitting right next to someone. Close your mouth. And if you are a gum snapper, I will hand you a Kleenex so you can spit it out or smack you upside the head. Don't embarrass yourself or someone else.


#20 : Acknowledgements
Hi!, Say 'Hi! Hello! How's it going!?' to everyone. Some of us are shy. We really want to talk to a fellow writer, a presenter, an author, or one of those 'oh so terrifyingly above us' editors/agents/publishers. Say 'Hi, How are you?' Introduce yourself. 'How was the workshop?' 'What are you writing?' 'Hi, has your day been good?' 'Have you seen any good books you might pick up?' "Did you get to talk to someone in the Blue Pencil Cafe?' 'How did it go?'
We are fellow writers, we need all the glad-handing we can get. It is an isolated world for us. Say 'Hi!' 'Hello!' 'How are yah!'
I will probably not remember your name the next time I see you, but that is not the point. The point is 'contact.' Lot's of contact. Writers need contact.


Thanks everyone for pitching in. Keep 'em coming.

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