Answer The Question
Over the last week, I've had limited opportunity to add new entries about The Writing Life. I was traveling to the Florida Writers Conference in Orlando. For me, I was with a new group of writers and always brings some interesting interaction and dynamics. Each writers conference has it's own rhythm and personality. Throughout the past year, I've been to almost a conference each month. During June, I spoke three weekends in a row--which was a bit intense especially zigzagging around the country from home to Amarillo, Texas to home to Roanoke, Virginia to home to Charlotte, North Carolina to home.
At the Florida conference there wasn't a faculty meeting or occasion to meet the various leaders of the local group so I had to pick up this information throughout the conference. Some conferences begin with a faculty meeting which provides this type of information. I taught two workshops and as the weekend progressed, I learned my volunteer room monitor was the Vice President of the Florida Writers Association, Chrissy Jackson. To get feedback about the individual workshops, each participant was given a simple evaluation slip when they came into the room. After the workshop, they filled out the slip and returned it to the registration desk. Why? Because when they turned in their feedback, they were given a numbered raffle ticket. At various points throughout the conference, these numbers were drawn and the winners received some nice prizes. This system gave the participants plenty of incentive to fill out the feedback forms and gather as many raffle tickets as they could collect.
At the end of the conference, Chrissy promised to send me my feedback from the registration forms, then she said, "I've seen your evaluations. It was very positive."
The way she said that statement made me think it was unusual and I said, "Isn't it supposed to be that way?"
Chrissy said, "Your workshop was different because when someone asked a question, you answered it for them in a way they could understand and apply."
As someone who has been attending writers conferences for many years, I was a bit confused. It didn't seem to me like I was doing anything unusual in answering the questions of the participants. "What's so different about that? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do if you teach a workshop?" I inquired.
"You'd be surprised at some of the other workshop leaders, Terry," Chrissy said. "Yes, they give an answer but it doesn't connect to the question nor does it answer their question?" I was a bit surprised at the reaction and grateful that my teaching was well received.
Tomorrow I will continue to write about my experiences from this workshop. I met some fascinating people at this conference and formed some new and valuable friendships. It's another one of the benefits of going to different conferences--something I recommend.