Why conference? Don't you just hate it when people turn a noun into a verb? I apologize, but the whole sentence: Why go to a conference? wouldn't fit into the title.
This is a topic endlessly discussed on various blogs, but I've got my own points on why to go to a conference. First, there's no such thing, perhaps there never was, as an ivory tower--we all need a fresh dose of "stim" from time to time or the well runs dry (okay, now I'm shortening words and mixing metaphors, maybe this is a post about how not to write!). What better place to fill yourself up than at a conference where you're among people of like nutty-mindedness? Even if you're an introvert, the energy from all those writers is a real rush. I always return from a conference with tons of renewed enthusiasm and myriad ideas. Second: Every conference I've attended has taught me great stuff, and I've attended a lot. Every panel, every workshop is unique and often that's all it takes...My writing has both improved and increased from what I've learned. And finally, and perhaps most important: it's a connected world and a conference is the place to get connected--and I don't mean just to the agents and editors attending. I suspect Miss Snark is correct in that the agents don't often find new authors at these conferences. Doesn't matter, for I've found the benefit is in the other writers--there the ones who'll "blind" read your stuff, who'll suggest other markets, who will find a great agent and let you know and possibly introduce you to said agent. Yes, yes, it's networking at its best!
In the next post, I'll tell you about a conference that I adore.
Tip: I have a friend who has a cell phone where she only gives the number to her husband, kids' schools, and other family members for use for emergencies only! This is a great idea, if you can do it. When you're working turn off your phone, or if you have to keep it on for business or family, at least turn the ringer down. There's something about that shrill demand for attention that is disruptive...much more so than kids playing in the next room for example. We're trained to drop everything and respond.