Preparing for the 2011 Willamette Writers Conference

So much changes in a year

Exactly one year ago, I was getting ready to go to the 2010 Willamette Writers Conference (WWC). Willamette Writers was new to me; I’d recently joined Oregon’s largest writers organization, and was going to the conference for one day to see what it was like. Seeking more opportunities and challenges than my current job could provide, I was looking at how I could modify my career to focus more on freelancing, consulting, writing and editing. I had no idea what to expect.

That one day changed my life. The seeming hyperbole isn’t. It’s amazing how much changes in a year, and as I get ready to go to the 3 days of this year’s conference, it’s with a different focus.

What’s changed, and how the conference helped make it happen

“I haven’t seen your writing,” one agent told me, “but if what you write is on par with your professionalism, you have nothing to worry about.”

That’s how my day began.

During the course of my one day at WWC 2010, I met agents, editors and fellow writers. I took in workshops that drove my business planning over the following year, and helped me quit my job in June 2011. While not yet having a manuscript to pitch, the same agent insisted I go to a “pitch practice” session. By the end of that session, after intense discussion and Q&A, the mentor I worked with told me that once my manuscript was done, I’d be ready and would do just fine.

Oh, and my day ended with shaking Chuck Palahniuk’s hand.

So much has changed since then. From being a member of the Willamette Writers Mid-Valley Chapter, I am now it’s co-chair. My novel manuscript is coming along, and I’ve researched and drafted an extensive plan for independently publishing and distributing the book. In June the time was right for me to leave my job, and I’m now self-employed, building clientele and assignments.

And this year, I’m going for the full conference.

This year’s focus: story-building and branding

Last year I focused mainly on workshops that discussed the business side of writing. This year I’m splitting things more 50-50, between nuts-and-bolts techniques for story construction, and branding/marketing.

I’m also there in my capacity as Mid-Valley Co-Chair, and look forward to talking with the Willamette Writers board and membership. If you have questions about  the chapter or membership, want to talk about how your pitch went, whatever, I’d be happy to talk with you.

And above all, I’m stoked to meet new people. From workshop presenters to fellow writers, the conference is packed with fascinating folks from all walks of life in the publishing industry. After all, we who tell stories also have our own stories to tell, and it’s fascinating to get to know more folks in my field.

See you there

If you’re going, I’d love to connect. Look for the bright-eyed short guy with the black and gray Timbuktu messenger bag. Odds are there’ll be a silvery Macbook or wee black Moleskine nearby. You can also reach me via email, anthony at, and on twitter @antsaint.

If you want to go to WWC, you can show up and register on the day, be it for the entire conference or just select days. Here’s more information on WWC 2011:

2011 Willamette Writers Conference

Whatever your endeavors, best of luck. If you haven’t been a writing conference, I highly recommend it. And if you’re going to WWC, I look forward to seeing you!

4 thoughts on “Preparing for the 2011 Willamette Writers Conference”

  1. It was very nice to meet you at the conference Anthony. I had no idea you brewed your own beer…had I known that, we probably would have discussed something other than epublishing!
    Good luck on your writing ventures, and I have to agree with what the first agent told you.
    aka – Brandi

  2. Great to meet you too, Brandi. We’ll defo have to do some beer talking! Waiting right now for our first harvest of Sterling hops to come in — going to do a wet-hop Magic Hat #9 clone.

    Maybe next time my wife and I are in Portland we can get together and do some beer/writing gabbing.


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