I went to alt.fiction 2008 and it was a fun event. I met some people and learnt some things about writing and getting published, but it wasn't such an amazing experience that I was keen to come back again. The organisation and sessions had an amateurism that doesn't appeal to me. I have some experience in professional event organisation, which may make me harsher than others, and the little things are important to the overall impression of the day. We all have our quirks, right?
2009 didn't happen. I know what the reasons were; I think it had to do with funding and logistical support. Given an extra year, and the fact that I have friends in Derby, I thought it would be fun to go again. I wasn't expecting too much.
This time round both the organisation and panels were better. The event seemed smoother and there were plenty of helpful staff on hand to keep things under control. The panellists (many of whom were the same as 2008) stepped up to the smarter venue and better organisation. The disucssions were erudite and intelligent and I was inspired by the conversations. It reminded me that there's nothing that's more fun than talking about books and writing, especially specultative fiction.
I couldn't attend every session. From what I did attend, this is what I'm taking away with me:
- Writing can be a career. You have to decide what you want from it and treat it in the same way you would any other career.
- A web presence is essential.
- Chasing the market doesn't work. Write what you need to write - the market will catch up with you.
- I have so much reading to do...
I'm definitely going next year. Maybe by then I'll have worked up the courage to talk to a publisher about my novel.