the 2017 atlanta writing workshop

I don’t remember how exactly I heard about The 2017 Writing Workshop in Atlanta, but as instructed on the webpage, I sent an email to the organizer asking for more details on registration, which she promptly sent.

I was super excited. This would be my first writing workshop/conference or anything like it. There would be lots of agents there, presenters who are successful, published writers, and I’d finally be able to plunge, headfirst, into the writing world and rub shoulders and network with fellow writers.

It was only $169, which I figured was extremely reasonable. Had it been closer to $200, I’d have immediately rejected the idea. Another $29 to pitch an agent in my genre. Hmmm. That sounds pretty good. I skimmed through the bios of the agents who would be in attendance and one in particular really caught my eye – Janell Walden Agyeman of Marie Brown Associates. In inspecting her webpage, I observed her list of high-profile clients who are widely known, read, and respected. Clearly, this woman was the real deal, and I only had to pay $29 to get a 10-minute face-to-face with her to pitch my book. Plus, she was the only agent on the list (from reading their bios and what genres they were interested in) that I could tell might be interested in my contemporary memoir, which is kind of not a memoir, since I wrote it three decades ago as it was happening.

Pshhhhh! I’m was in.

Still, I waited. I wasn’t 100% sure about attending, even though the event page did a very good job of selling the event, demonstrating its value, and would have well known, sought-after literary agents in attendance.

The email I’d received had said that the 10-minute slots for pitching to agents were filling up quickly, and without registering, I might risk the possibility of the agent’s roster filling up and her not having a space left for me. I figured if it was meant to be, there was no real rush. She’d have a spot for me.

I emailed a couple of fellow writers about the event, expecting to get immediate, excited responses. Instead, I got crickets.

My own excitement waxed and waned. I began to question if there was any real value in my going. Was this all just some sort of scam? What exactly was I getting in return for my $200 investment? What if I paid the registration fee and there were only twenty other people there? I was now down to about zero enthusiasm for this writing workshop.

But then something changed. Or rather, I decided to change my mind and take a risk. The Universe always rewards those of us who dare and risk, right? Right. Any step – no matter how small – is a step towards the realization of one’s dream. And my dream is to be a best-selling author.
So I logged into my PayPal account and paid the registration fee, as I’d been instructed to do in the email. I noticed that nearly all the agents’ 10-minute pitch sessions were now sold out, but when I scrolled down to Janell Ageyman, she sill had slots available. I knew it. It was two days before the workshop. I specified that I’d paid the $29 fee to pitch an agent and wanted to meet with Ms. Ageyman. And I received my confirmation email.

I was on my way.

And now, it’s over. It was a very valuable experience. Soon after the 5:00 PM end of the event, I departed the Le Meridien Hotel parking lot, blasting David Bowie and feeling as if I wanted to sing “Zip-a-dee-do-dah” from the top of a mountain somewhere. I’d met with well-known and respected literary agent who’d loved my book and said she wanted to read it.

And maybe that was the only reason I went. I felt validated. If she was interested in my book, it would sell. No matter that she’d said she couldn’t touch my book because I’m an indie author. Well—more specifically, she’d said that she couldn’t touch my book until/unless I’d sold 10,000 copies. But she said she believed I could do that, and that I had the intelligence and the moxie to do it.

And really, that’s all that mattered.

I arrived home utterly drained and exhausted from a full day’s workshops and mixing and mingling, not to mention the whole dramatic work-up of waiting until my time to pitch, which wasn’t until 4:10 PM and close to the end of the workshop.

I was so tired that I laid down and soon fell into a deep sleep. I woke up around midnight, annoyed that my light was still on and reminded that I hadn’t yet showered. I like to shower before going to bed. Just my ritual. So I got up, showered, twisted my hair up into bantu knots, wrapped my head in a bandanna, turned off the light, and slept for another ten hours.

And I dreamed of flying through space over foreign landscapes of other planets. I was remote-viewing people doing the most random of things, like shaving in the bathroom mirror. And then there were a couple of episodes of sleep paralysis, which is never much fun, but is a side effect of uncontrolled anxiety that had been whipped up by the events of the day. Par for the course. Oh. And a cameo from Jude Law, who I adore. We were walking down a street (hopefully in London) holding hands, and I let go of his hand to hold onto the crook of his bent arm instead, like a lady and gentleman walking though town, and then he was gone.

That’s what I get for meeting and talking to fantasy writers all day, I suppose.

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