Nine years ago I got married, turned 30, quit my job and decided to take my writing seriously. I wanted to write professionally but had no idea how to do it. So I flew to Maui with my mother for the Maui Writer’s Conference.
For four days I absorbed everything I could about magazine writing. I learned about writer’s guidelines, queries, breaking in with front-of-book stories, features, essays. I learned about the Writer’s Market and how to track down contacts and market research and how to pique an editor’s interest. I took notes and avoided the pool and the mai tais and learned so much I thought my head was going to explode.
But I took it all home and worked like hell and within a few months, I was writing for magazines.
Tomorrow I fly to Hawaii to attend the conference for a second time. (It’s now the Hawaii Writer’s Conference and held in Honolulu, because who can afford four days at a Maui resort on top of conference fees these days? I can only pull Honolulu off because, lucky me, my mom lives there.)
It makes me feel retrospective to go back. Makes me think about that naïve, hopeful, determined girl. To just go for it like that—was that really me? And have it work out. Wow.
I’ve been to smaller conferences since. I’ve learned oceans more. Published lots, not published lots. Found out how hard this writing business really is. Gotten wiser. Made choices, made sacrifices, made compromises. Part of me thinks; I’ve heard it all, I know all there is, what more could I learn?
But there’s always more to learn. Right now I think part of why I need to go back to Hawaii is to figure out how much of that girl from nine years ago is still in me.