Why I Went To WanaCon

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Image by Cellar Door Films sharing in WANA Commons

‘Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,

they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom’

– Marcel Proust

In November I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Before this weekend I hadn’t even heard of it. On Wednesday, I’m meeting with Laird Sapir of Memphis McKay and Jay Donovan of TechSurgeons, neither of whom I knew of before this weekend, to help me achieve a professional business/author website, something my technically-challenged self has been struggling with for a while. I’ve attended craft lessons from best-selling authors and technology lessons from social-media experts. I’ve started a brilliant new book – Firelands by Piper Bayard, which wasn’t on my radar. I’ve laughed. A lot. I’ve made new friends on Twitter – but most importantly, in real life. I’ve met Kristen Lamb. All of this came from the best last-minute decision I’ve ever made – to sign up for WANACon, a digital worldwide writers’ conference. 

My return on investment? More than taken care of in the first half an hour of attending well-structured, easily accessible sessions and meeting the presenters and attendees. Over the last year, I’ve been reevaluating many of my old romantic notions. My previous (and unrealised) imagining of Sara The Writer was someone sitting loftily alone in an attic study, quill in hand, writing beauteous prose and bestowing it upon the world (and the world loved it). Sara The Writer would attend writers’ conferences, but in person and would never have thought to travel to one when not yet published by a big name publisher. Wow, what a turnaround. I’m pre-published, I’ve embraced the digital age and the indie age, and I’ve learnt this last month exactly what WANA stands for – We Are Not Alone. 

How amazing how much so many want to share – their time; their wisdom; their support. Writers here aren’t acting as rivals – they are cheering each other on, with words of encouragement from their own experience. I think a strong network can be the difference between success and failure. After discovering the ‘WANA Way’ and attending WANACon, I think I’m on the right path. 

But before I knew all this, why did I go? It’s because I practise what I preach. I believed in the idea as it was presented to me, so I followed through. It wasn’t just for published authors so being pre-published shouldn’t stop someone. If it had been a physical conference I could have travelled to, I would have. But if it had been a physical conference in the US, I couldn’t have. So being online was a bonus. I went because of posts like this one, from Kristen Lamb’s blog – Doubt, Fear, False Alarms & “Giving Birth” To Our Dreams. I lost sight of my dreams and have piles of unfinished masterpieces lying around. At least I started writing again. Now, I’m actually going to finish something! And I’m going to do it surrounded by inspirational people actively motivating me to do so.

Do you feel alone? I’m not just talking to writers, but everyone, whatever it is you do.  Don’t be an island. There is so much more joy and comfort in joining up with people who have the same loves and the same struggles. With the wonder of the internet, we can now connect with such people, even if they’re nowhere to be found nearby. We can all help each other. We are not alone.  

12 thoughts on “Why I Went To WanaCon

  1. Jami Gold

    Great post, Sara! Like you, I strongly believe in the WANA way. That’s why I gave up so much time to volunteering behind the scenes. I want to prove that the WANA way can work. 🙂

    Reply
  2. tam francis

    I wanted to go but had a huge weekend with soccer games, Evening with the Authors and my local book club. Although those were great, it is not what I needed for my writing. LOL. I’m so happy for you to find what you need. The very best of luck on NaNoWriMo. I’m almost ready to commit. LOL And…thanks for stopping my my site and trying repeatedly to post 😉

    Reply
    1. saralitchfield

      Lol no problem.. Sometimes I like to hope a secret bug is stopping my hundreds of readers from commenting so I couldn’t let it go! There’s another WANACon in Feb – soooo worth it… NaNoWriMo – I’m not sure if I’m going to win but it will definitely work as a motivator and get words on the page! Let me know if you sign up and we can be writing buddies 🙂

      Reply
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  5. Piper Bayard

    Going to a conference made all the difference for me. That’s where I met Kristen back in 2010, and I had a similar epiphany to the one you describe here. It’s not just that We Are Not Alone, we can’t do this alone. I would be nowhere without all of the wonderful friends I’ve made since that first conference.

    Your voice has a wonderful energy. As someone said to me a long time ago, “You smell of ‘win.'” May your muse be generous.

    Thanks so much for the mention. I hope you enjoy FIRELANDS. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sara Litchfield Post author

      Wow thanks Piper 🙂 What a nice thing to say! I’m about to throw my MS at ABNA to see if I can get through a couple rounds – hopefully make that smell stronger 😀

      I loved Firelands, it’s exactly the themes I’m interested in and the story was so good! I could never tell what was going to happen next – kept me on my toes, so difficult to do…

      I can’t imagine not being involved in the WANA revolution now – just so so glad I took the plunge and went to that first conference, it’s just made a world of difference to my motivation and progress!

      Reply

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