Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Slice Literary Writers' Conference 2013

I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend the Slice Literary Writers' Conference a few weekends ago in Brooklyn on September 7th and 8th.  It was a great gathering of writers, editors and agents, and I was excited to see some familiar faces at lunch and on the panels.  If you have the opportunity to go next year, I would highly recommend it!  The panels were all really interesting and it was a great chance to meet lots of new and interesting people.  My only complaint was the dearth of poetry panels and poets who were speaking.  I learned lots of really great information, but some of it felt like it wasn't really applicable to me because my main focus is writing and publishing poetry.

Some of the best panels I attended were:
  • E-singles, Apps, and Podcasts - Oh My! Not Your Old Professor's Literary Magazine (Benjamin Samuel, Lincoln Michel, Adina Talve-Goodman, Celia Johnson, Michele Filgate): The first panel of the conference, this was a great discussion on some of the ways literary magazines are choosing to branch out into electronic media, or how they are choosing not to engage, but continuing to innovate in print.  Given the work I'm trying to do with revamping Call & Response, this was a really interesting panel.  It also introduced me to a few publications I'd never heard of before (including One Story and Noon) and the fascinating WhoPays? tumblr.  The focus in this particular panel was all on fiction, which was a little disappointing, but it still had some great nuggets of information, so I'm really glad I went.
  • A Planet of Wallflowers in a Universe of Noise - How to Promote Yourself Online When Online Promotion Just Isn't Your Thing (Ami Greko, Kirby Kim, Eve Bridburg, Jim Thompson): This was definitely my favorite panel of the weekend.  It was a discussion on how to build an audience online while staying true to who you are as a person, a balance I think anyone with an online presence can appreciate.  Their advice included creating a goal for yourself by thinking about who you want to be as a public person, and then working backwards from that goal by paying attention to your metrics, making personal connections, and finding a community of people who will care about you, and by extension, about your book.  I also got a chance to talk briefly with Ami Greko afterward about her career in publishing (she works at Goodreads), which was fascinating - and she's genuinely super friendly!
  • Life After an MFA (Scott Cheshire, Dina Nayeri, Justin Taylor, Ted Thompson, Jennifer Miller, Julia Fierro): The last panel I attended was another great one, with several authors talking about their lives post-MFA.  Obviously this is a topic close to my heart right now, so it was really interesting to hear about the various paths these writers took after finishing school.  They were all fiction writers, so again it wasn't perfectly applicable to me, but it was interesting to hear some of their suggestions for preparing for the future.  The three suggestions that felt most applicable to me: find work, whether teaching, writing, or something completely different; find another creative outlet that you love but which has less pressure for you than writing; and take care of yourself physically and mentally by working out, eating well, and keeping up with friends.
Overall, it was a really great conference with lots of opportunities for learning and meeting people in the industry.  Thanks so much to the Slice editors for putting it together!