This post comes from J.P. Choquette — whose medical suspense novel EPIDEMIC is featured on her blog, http://www.scaredecat.com — check the blog for Crime Bake photos, too! Thanks very much, J.P., for all the ways you’re contributing to Sisters in Crime New England!
Having been a professional writer for several years, I’ve been to a variety of writer’s conferences. Large and small, in Vermont and outside of it, each conference has a certain slant, purpose and vibe. I wasn’t sure what to expect at my very first Crime Bake. I knew just one person attending, but hoped to meet two fellow Sisters in Crime who I’ve had email contact with throughout the year.
If I could sum up the entire weekend experience in one word it would be CONNECTION.
Yes, as a thirty-something year-old I felt a little out of place on arrival. Sitting in the ballroom and looking out over the sea of tables, many of them filled with vibrant but gray-haired writers, I suddenly felt very inexperienced. What did I have to contribute? And then that familiar sense of worry set in. “What am I doing here? These people obviously all know each other.” Prepared to sit alone or ignored most of the weekend, I attempted to let the thoughts go and focus on the E-book seminar.
Despite my fatigue (it was a looooong drive!) and feeling of overwhelm, I quickly found my rhythm: Take notes, smile at people, watch the presenters and suck in information like a fish tossed suddenly back into the waves.
Saturday I woke bright and early, showered and gave myself a pep talk on my way back to the ballroom. “These writers are the same as you in many ways. Look for similarities not differences.” And you know what? It worked.
I met a lot of really great writers over the course of the weekend. By the time I left on Sunday I’d made not just one, but several new writing friends. I’d learned a lot, been inspired, met new people, laughed quite a bit and experienced a sense of camaraderie that I wasn’t expecting. Yes, as a younger writer I was in the minority. But by the end of the weekend, I didn’t see the color of anyone’s hair as much as I did the passion they shared with me for writing and reading.
Attending Crime Bake was an investment in my career. I didn’t expect it to also act as a personal retreat; one where I could leave behind the day-to-day worries of paying the bills and remembering to put out the trash and picking my son up from school on time and focus only on writing. And all alongside fellow writers, on all different paths, happily sharing the same stream.