I've told many people about leaving my little east coast and flying across the country to the west. I've told them why; the Pacific Northwest Writing Association conference. They all say 'Oh, you're a writer?' and I have that awkward shift from one foot to the other before saying, 'Yes.'
One of my co-workers (the same one that has been getting on my case and telling me that I'm a terrible employee) cornered me the other day and tried to impart some wisdom on me. He told me not to listen to what anyone had to say, (pretty much that the conferences were worthless, and I won't learn anything) and that I shouldn't read stuff in my genre (you don't need to do any of that). When I tried to tell him what my feelings were, as per usual he didn't listen.
I've also had people say "Don't pitch to an agent. Give them a spin, and ask -them- what they can do for you." When I tried to explain that 90% of this information can be found on their blog, they again refused to listen to me.
So here's my advice:
You go to conferences to hear inteligent people talk. You hear them tell about their experience(s), what they've learned, and the hardships they've gone through. Some, you'll be able to relate to. Some will say insightful things, and some won't. Take what you want out of it. I take about a page per panel of things that I like. I bring a highlighter for things that I really like (because let's be honest, when I take notes, I rarely actually go back through and read the whole page). The biggest things that I've gotten out of conferences is:
Along with that, everyone always tells you to read within your genre, and I agree. But I also think that you should step out of your genre and read other things, too. (I despirately want to read a trashy romance book some day, when I'm less awkward.) Be a well rounded writer and reader. Keep reading, keep writing, keep going.
That is all for today :)
Now to get ready for pre-PNWA stuff!