When You Know You Could Do It Better

by - April 5, 2016

~ Coming to grips with a negative conference experience and understanding that Ted Dekker has ruined all future conference adventures ~

dealing with a negative conference experience

Last weekend I had the exciting opportunity to hit the long road to Ottawa and attend a writer's conference with a friend. I paid my registration fee, chose workshops that sounded inspiring, felt excited about a keynote speech on the topic of building platform, booked a nice hotel, and eagerly anticipated a grownup weekend in which I could shuck my 'Mommy' title and just be an enthusiastic writer, aspiring to learn and better my craft.

Sounds amazing, right?


Well. First of all, this was a one day conference. 8:30 am - 3:00 pm. That's only 6 1/2 hours. An hour and a half was wasted on coffee breaks and lunch. {Worst cup of coffee I've ever tasted. Lunch was wonderful but good coffee is imperative to an educational experience!} So really, that's only 5 hours of poorly caffeinated education.

With nearly fourteen hours of round trip driving.

Do you see?

I was expecting to be bombarded with five hours of powerful workshops, an invigorating keynote speech, and an inspiring panel discussion. I expected to come away empowered—desperate to keep writing with promising leads on various opportunities.

I attended two workshops. One on writing effective dialogue and one on editing. Both had great value yet were squeezed into such time restraints that I left feeling incomplete—at least another hour was needed in each to really tackle the subject matter and gain tangible, implementable information.

As I sat waiting for the keynote speaker to begin, I felt a low buzz of excitement—platform is huge and I want real tools to help me build mine. I was really looking forward to what he had to say—a long-time veteran of the publishing world, an adorable older gentleman who has seen global success, has a spunky attitude and warm grin. This is going to be good, I thought. This is what I came for.

[Insert fart noise here]

After spending way too long touting his own books {and fair enough, that's his right—use the platform he's given and all that} but suddenly he was talking about building inroads between world religions and then it was a town hall meeting about how to lobby the government against euthanasia.

What? Are you kidding me?
There is a time and place for political conversation. This was not that place. 

I paid money to learn about writing and to explore my aspirations with other like-minded people. I couldn't give a rat's patootie what the proper email address for congress is.

When one dear woman {God bless her and her cotton socks!} raised her hand and asked, "but what about platform? Should you establish that before you try to publish something?" That man, that adorable, quirky, I-thought-I'd-learn-something-from-him man said, "No!"


Well what in the world was he there for??!

And what in the world was I there for?

Two years ago I sat in an auditorium as best-selling author Ted Dekker perched on a wooden stool, pouring his heart straight into my heart and it was all I could do to keep from crying because everything he said moved me and made sense and spoke to the artist in me that was so desperate to really find her voice. That experience cost a stupid amount of money. And it was worth every single cent because I still remember things he said. Pieces of advice he offered up that day still resonate through my soul and inform what I'm doing today. That's amazingly powerful. {And yes, in all honesty, I'm probably just a tiny but in love with him but that's besides the point—that man can deliver a keynote that will rock your world!}

It was only after everything was over, as I sat across from my girlfriend in a quirky little coffee shop, nursing a pretty chai latte and debriefing our various disappointments, that I realized the truth: Ted Dekker has ruined me for all future writing conferences.

Thanks a lot, Ted!

But even if I can force myself to set that aside I know the conference did not live up to its potential. In fact, I know I could put on a better event myself and that's wildly depressing.

But fear not! All is not lost! I refuse to let the weekend beat me! I mean, what better way to build up a friendship than by spending long hours in a car getting to know each other? And what's more fun than googling 'Best Coffee Shop In Ottawa' so you can find yourself at a little, off-the-beaten-path establishment called 'The Laughing Goat' where the staff is wildly enthusiastic and eager to please...And how thrilling to just park your car and wander the streets of Little Italy until you stumble into an intimate little restaurant with food so good it hurts your brain...and what a treat to spend two nights in a beautiful little French hotel with deliciously comfortable beds and warm staff who speak with sexy accents, where someone will bring you fresh towels and fluff your pillows...

The most writerly part of the whole weekend was the time she and I spent having our own conversations about the craft. Because that was real and that was what I wanted and that was what I went looking for. 

Funny that I didn't even have to leave home to find it.

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  1. What a bummer! I'm glad you girls still had fun. How lame for the keynote though. 😠

    1. Right?! I couldn't believe it - but yes, nothing good Italian food can't fix :)

  2. I know you were disappointed. Really sorry, and what a bummer. Glad you had company. Some things are best endured with another. You know? So when you start asking if you're crazy for what you think/feel, someone else is there to say "NO!"

    1. They can't all be great. It's what you take away despite the disappointment that matters!

  3. Perfectly described in every detail ;)

    And that coffee!! yeech!


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