In our "Been There, Done That" series, Literary Mama editors and readers share their experiences at conferences, workshops, classes, and residencies. Fiction Editor Felicity Landa recalls her time at the Central Coast Writer's Conference (CCWC) in San Luis Obispo, California.
Central Coast Writer's Conference (CCWC) in September 2018.
2. Where was it and what was the time requirement?
CCWC takes place annually over the course of one weekend, at a local community college in San Luis Obispo, California, called Cuesta College. I have a friend who lives up in SLO, and her mom and brother are frequent attendees. She has been trying to get me to go for years, and I was finally able to attend this past September.
3. What were the course offerings?
There is quite a bit going on at CCWC, especially for a conference of smaller scale. The first evening begins with a wine and appetizer reception followed by a keynote speech. This year it was a panel of fabulous women writers of all genres, discussing the challenges of being a woman in the publishing world. The next day begins with another keynote speech, followed by three workshops and a final panel workshop. The categories for the workshops are diverse and original, including memoir and novel writing, screenwriting, poetry, business and marketing, beginner writing, and technique, among others. Friday night they offer a special teen workshop in the evening for high school students who are young budding writers, and those students join in on the workshops the next day. Saturday is filled with more workshops, a buffet lunch, and a final closing keynote, this year delivered by Jean Moelter. In between workshops you can sign up for critiques, individual meetings with the speakers - novelists, memoirists, agents, screenwriters, poets, and so many more- or you can peruse the book seller table and support the awesome writers who are there lecturing. This year for an additional price, they offered intensive Master Classes and a pitching workshop during the day on Thursday, before the conference begins.
4. How did you spend your time?
Surprisingly, I spent most of my time in workshops given by screenwriters. I was extremely impressed with the caliber of their lectures, and found myself drawn to their vibrant topics, such as writing for social change and creating successful franchise characters. The screenwriters who attended have fantastic careers: Ricky Roxburgh, Michael Tabb, Jeanne Veillete Bowerman, among many others. I don't think screenwriting is as big a focus at other conferences, so I was impressed by the wide range of genres CCWC has to offer.
5. What did you take away from the experience?
Simply being around other passionate and enthusiastic writers can do wonders to boost your confidence and motivation. Especially as a stay at home mom who also works full time, It is so hard to take an hour or two here and there for myself just to write. Conferences like CCWC, or even just online courses and workshops, can do wonders for our willpower to write. I was definitely inspired after attending this conference, while witnessing so many successful writers passing on their knowledge and insight, and being around others who share my passion for words.
6. Did you have the opportunity for a writing critique? Was it helpful?
Unfortunately, I am still a full time mommy and didn't have the time to sign up for a critique. Hopefully next year, although I did hear that many attendees received helpful feedback from their critiques. I did speak at some length with Literary Agent Taylor Martindale Kean, who represents the kind of YA fiction that I write. We spoke about author-agent relationships, and the current YA marketplace. She is a phenomenal speaker and a lovely person.
7. Would you attend this event again?
I definitely would attend again, and I do recommend this conference to anyone living on or near the central coast of California.
8. Share some helpful tips for a writer considering this experience. (Tips may include transportation, lodging, food, classes/instructors, or anything you think future attendees would benefit from knowing.)
I have high regards for the screenwriting element of this conference, of course, but most importantly I was so thankful for the lovely volunteers who make CCWC happen. This conference may appear small, but in its 34 successful years it has gathered a large fan base. Most of the attendees have been supporting and attending for years, and it makes the atmosphere more familial and comfortable. I also think the attention they give to teen writers is something to be praised. That kind of support for budding writers is most definitely needed, and often times younger people feel left out of conferences and workshops because of their age. I appreciated CCWC's inclusivity and support of all ages, stages, and genres of writing.
Have you attended a conference, workshop, residency, or class? We'd like to hear about your experience. Email us at lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com.