Let me start by saying that I enjoyed the conference--the writers at storymakers tend to be very supportive of one another, and several of the classes I attended have left my brain buzzing with ways to make my current WIP better.
And I loved the keynote speech by Anne Perry, who essentially told us that we write not only because we have stories to tell, but because those stories make us better people--more empathetic, more Christlike. I had a fangirl moment on Saturday when I saw Anne Perry outside one of the conference rooms and told her how much I loved her keynote. She said, "Thank you." That was the extent of our interaction, but it left me with a distinct buzz.
I often come away from conferences feeling invigorated and encouraged to keep writing. This time my reaction feels more mixed--I'm still parsing through it. Sometimes it's discouraging to think of how many writers are out there, all of us dreaming to publish our work. And the reality, of course, is that while those who persist will probably eventually get published, we may not always realize our dream in the way that we hope. This, of course, is why writers are consistently advised to take pleasure in the writing itself, because we can't control any other part of the process.
And there were some positive moments: I pitched my novel to Alyssa Henkin (who I am very impressed with, on the basis of hearing her speak at a couple of panels) and she seemed very interested, which is always encouraging.
On the other hand, if I'm really honest, I'm still smarting from the sting of not placing in the first chapter contest. The first chapter I submitted is one of the best things I've written, my CPs loved it, and I secretly hoped that someone else would too--that this might be my validation that what I wrote is actually okay. And of course, this didn't happen. Seeing the reviews from the judges made me feel better--two of the judges gave it fairly high marks (one perfect score!), but the third judge clearly didn't like it much at all. And I get that there can be stylistic differences. So maybe I don't suck absolutely.
The good thing about writing, though, is that as long as I am writing, there's always the possibility of getting better. And that possibility is what fuels my attendance at conferences like this.
Here's to being an even better writer this time next year!