I first heard of Realm Makers last year, a couple weeks before the conference. Obviously I couldn’t attend it on such short notice, but I decided to attempt coming this year. After the conference last year, my twitter friends came screaming back to me and threatened to drag me there if I didn’t come of my own accord this year.
(The irony still gets me that you couldn’t go this year after threatening me into going XD)
ANYWAY. Commence a whole year of saving and planning. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year o_o times goes by so fast. At the time, last August, the 2017 conference seemed impossibly far away. And then suddenly it was New Years and then it was my birthday and then it was summer and BAM, Realm Makers was right around the corner.
I was so excited. This was my first writing conference and it’s been a dream of mine and a promise to myself for a long time, that I would eventually put forth the money and effort and time and dedication it took to go to a writing conference. I knew that I needed to show myself how important my writing was to me.
I was not disappointed.
I’ve been in a writing slump since November because NaNo always throws me off my writing game. It’s happened three years in a row, so I don’t think I need anymore data points. I love NaNo but after November I can’t get back on my feet again for nearly a year. I’ve also been in a serious reading slump since our move, and with working almost full time, I’ve honestly not had enough time to fill my creative well. (That’s a real thing, too. You have to fill it if you want to take anything out of it.) I think this conference has given me what I need to boost myself back into writing. (The key being, I use what I got to get back on my feet. It won’t work unless I do the work.)
(There are a lot of parenthetical phrases in this post.)
The conference officially started Thursday afternoon at 4pm and went through Saturday night. The closing keynote was at 4pm but there was a raffle and author signing afterwards, and the official unofficial Nerf Gun War which lasted until 1pm.
I arrived on Wednesday and hung out with some Realmies who had already arrived. One of my roommates got there that evening as well. Thursday I volunteered to help with registration and I got to help everyone put stickers on their name tags.
(So many stickers. So many.)
Fun fact: When I registered back in February the form asked what name I wanted on my name tag, so I put ‘Lisa Pickle’, because I thought it would be just like a subtitle name under my real name and because I know a lot of Realmies followed me on Twitter before the conference. Apparently ‘name tag name’ meant ‘only name on your name tag’ so for the whole weekend I was Lisa Pickle.
I just can’t get away from it, folks.
After the opening keynote at 4pm and after supper, Carla Hoch held a Fight Workshop. Let me tell you, she is amazing. She’s funny, and like all writers, I was soaking up all the violence and fight and weapon tips, but the info she gives is legit. She wasn’t teaching how to write fight scenes. She was teaching us how to actually fight. You can’t write something unless you actually know the real thing.
Friday started the Continuing Ed classes and other panels and workshops. I signed up for Mary Weber and Jim Rupart’s class, Heroes and Villains, and the Heart of your story. Seriously, people, I think this was honestly the only class I needed. After 3 sessions (like 6+ hours) of listening to these two, my view of my writing has readjusted back to where it should be. We write because God has called us to. We need to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us and show us what to write and what not to write. We shouldn’t be afraid of going to deep, or writing something too ‘edgy’, or tackling issues that need to be tackled. We heal through our writing. Your readership is a ministry God has called you to reach in a way no one else can.
That’s only a couple sprinkles from the entire cake they gave us, but I couldn’t possibly rewrite it all. Maybe I’ll do another post and try to distill more of what they talked about. Just trust me, peoples. You need this conference. Everyone who writes speculative fiction needs this conference.
I met so many wonderful people. I felt so at home, so comfortable. I was surrounded by 220+ people who were just as weird and nerdy and creative and out of place as I was. A couple times it just hit me that everyone there was a writer. Every time I sat down at a table or someone sat next to me in a class, at some point they would ask “What do you write?” and we’d end up talking about our stories and characters. I believe everyone who writes anything should experience that at least once in their life.
Friday night was a costume dinner. Let me tell you; the only thing better that 220+ writers being in the same place at the same time? 220+ writers in the same place at the same time all dressed up as fictional characters. I saw Anastasia, Gandalf, Oliver Queen, Wolverine, Doctor Strange, Snow White, Emma Swan, Flynn Rider and Rapunzel, and so, SO many more.
There was a bookstore//vendor hall set up the entire weekend. So many books, various artists, publishing houses, editors and mentors, all had tables set up. If I go next year I’m going to try to split a table with someone.
Also, there was coffee and refreshments all Friday and Saturday. Aside from meals, the resort staff kept fresh coffee and tea available, and various snacks throughout the day.
On the note of the resort staff: the service was PHENOMENAL. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to directly thank any of them, but they were so understanding and so helpful and so nice.
Saturday night closed off with the annual Nerf Gun War! I couldn’t stay until the very end, but I managed to last until about 12:30 am.
This is seriously the nerdiest, craziest, awesomest conference you could attend. It’s the perfect combination of faith, creativity, freedom, fellowship, and learning. If you write speculative fiction, you need this conference. They haven’t chosen the location for next year yet, but as soon as they do, you all will know because I’ll be plastering it all over my blog.
I don’t think there’s much else to say, other than to quote Zac and threaten to drag you all there next year if you don’t come on your own XD