Conferences are fun and can be very educational. But the best take-home I have received from them is the friends I’ve made. Writing can be a lonely occupation and writers’ quirks and the trials of writing can really only be understood by fellow writers.
At my first conference I met a woman who belonged to a critique group in my area. When I accepted her invitation to join I met Nancy Sanders and from there followed her to other critique groups that evolved from that first one. The result: close friendship with a fabulous group of writers who have helped me in countless ways with my writing. Encouragement, positive suggestions for strengthening what I bring to share, market news galore–I can’t list all the help they’ve given me. A second group led by Nancy has brought more friends and sharing, and opportunities for my helping others.
I agree meeting friends isn’t usually the reason we pay to attend writers’ conferences, but the ones I’ve made as a result are priceless!