The real reason I was in New York City this weekend was not to eat fantastic food or check out the Met—though the fact that I also got to do both was a bonus. No, the real reason for my visit was the American Society of Journalists and Authors Annual Convention, which took place at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
As I am not a member, I was only able to attend the sessions on Saturday and Sunday; as I was a bit apprehensive about going as a non-member, I only signed up for the Saturday sessions. I found the entire experience to be at once inspirational and discouraging, energizing and overwhelming, exciting and stressful.
ASJA is exciting yet stressful…
While I do love to do new things and am fairly outgoing (ok, very outgoing), walking into an entire conference full of people who know each other can be quite stressful. However, I found almost everyone at ASJA to be extremely welcoming. I’ve had some bad luck with conferences in the past (ok, with one particular conference) and this gathering could not have been more different. It was wonderful to walk into each session not only knowing that I’d come away with lots of great tips and ideas, but I’d likely meet some great new people at the same time.
Were people snobby, rude, or short with me because of my newbie, non-member status? Absolutely not. If anything, the opposite was true; many people went out of their way to welcome me. If you are one of those people I would like to sincerely thank you. You truly made my day.
ASJA is energizing but overwhelming…
While I attended primarily to figure out how to best get my book published, I left wanting to do so much more with my writing. If there’s one thing I came away with it is this: there are so many more ways to turn writing into a profession than I’d ever considered. I’ve been looking at My Book Idea as just that—something needing capital letters. But it’s not. It’s just one idea, one option for my life. I know that I love to write, I think I’m pretty good at it, and I have 14 months to try to make a living at it. There are so many things I can do, and thanks to ASJA I now understand how to go about getting started. However, the sheer amount of information was dizzying—this can be both a blessing and a curse, as my head is still spinning three days later.
ASJA is inspirational and discouraging…
I met so many people working on so many different projects; many of them have had great success. One specific highlight was the keynote speaker, Jen Singer of Mommasaid dot net. She told a story that particularly resonated with me—that of feeling like an outsider during her first ASJA conference. In fact, I had just been telling my table mate how I had started to feel discouraged; how the writing I do ‘doesn’t fit in’, and at that point in the speech she turned to me and mouthed ‘like you!’ I don’t know if I will end up as big of a success as Jen Singer, but man that talk was reassuring!
All in all I found ASJA to be more than worth the amount of time, money, and energy it took to attend. I will be back next year, hopefully as a member. In fact, I have to say that if you’ve found this post by googling ‘should I go to the ASJA annual conference’, the answer is yes, yes you should.
Up next–a ‘What I Learned at ASJA’ list.