2009 — after living in Berkeley, California; Seattle, Washington; and
Louisville, Kentucky — I returned to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama to
teach. Despite the fact that I’d left a job as a newspaper reporter to start a
career in education, I knew I wanted to continue to write.
would be my first time in Birmingham as a working, writing adult. I knew how to
be a teenager in Birmingham writing angst-ridden poetry and prose in my
journal, sitting in my bedroom with The Cranberries or Mariah Carey playing on
I knew how to be a writer on the West Coast and in the Midwest. But I had to learn how to be a writer in Birmingham.
Are you feeling burned out on writing and blogging conferences?
I’m not! And here’s why — this past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at and attend the Southern Christian Writers Conference for the first time and it was amazing! I left with a notebook full of useful information and feeling incredibly inspired. I made new friends, too!
But let’s be honest — sometimes attending writing and blogging conferences can be a waste of money and time. And if you’ve had this experience it may be because the conference was poorly planned and highly disorganized, or perhaps it featured subpar presenters.
However, here’s a hard truth — most of the time when we don’t get anything out of writing or blogging conferences it’s our own fault. Most of the time we were the ones who failed to plan and get organized.
My friend Randi Pink, author of the young adult novel Into White and the forthcoming novel Girls Like Us, calls herself a “conference-a-holic” and with good reason. She proudly proclaims that it’s because of the conferences held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators that she is published today. (SCBWI’s 48th Annual Summer Conference will be held in Los Angeles, August 9-12. Learn more here.)
I’ve been attending writing and blogging conferences for years and I’ve learned that how much I get out of a conference has more to do with me than the conference itself. To make the most of writing and blogging conferences you must ask yourself important questions before you even step foot in the venue.
This is a question I asked myself as I was deciding whether or not I would sign up for SPARK, a five-day writing conference set to be held August 5 – 9 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Since last year’s inaugural Magic City Poetry Festival founder Ashley M. Jones has been busy. She’s been busy publishing her second book, dark / / thing, which she describes as “a book that can’t sit silently.”
Ashley, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award recipient who also won the silver medal in poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards for her debut collection Magic City Gospel, has also been busy planning this year’s Magic City Poetry Festival.
The 2019 festival will kick off April 4 and host events throughout the month including a reading by poetry legend and Birmingham native Sonia Sanchez!
Ashley started the Magic City Poetry Festival to help showcase the talent of Birmingham-based poets and to expose more people to the power of poetry. See Jane Write had a chat with Ashley recently to discuss how this year’s festival will do just that.
When it comes to the question of how to make time to write and blog I’ve realized I’ve been too easy on you.
Until now, I’ve simply challenged you to write every day, even if it’s just one page or even just one line. And I still think that’s a fine way to start your writing or blogging journey. But eventually the time comes when we have to put our big girl panties on and do more.