Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cost of Conferences

Last week, I finally bought a new purse. I've been thinking about buying a purse for months. Before I go any further, I must admit that I'm very frugal. I don't have a problem spending money on other people, just myself. I learned this attitude toward money by watching my mom manage a household on very little money. It was a big treat to go to a nearby larger town and go shopping. Of course shopping was more "looking" because we didn't have the funds for anything other than bare necessities. Every time we went "window shopping", the shoe and purse aisle called my name. Even now, the faint whiff of leather attracts me to that section of the store where I fondly saunter down each aisle to gaze and touch. If my knees weren't shot from my cheer leading years, you'd hear me click, clicking in my four inch heels. I just love that sound. I know, my husband thinks I'm a little nuts too.

So, I bought a new purse last week--half price of course. It was amazing how good that taupe woven bag made me feel (I'm not a big fan of the monster bags with five hundred buckles on them).
My husband said when I got home, "It was about time. You've needed a new purse." Did I say I was frugal? I am frugal. My husband is not afraid to tell me to make sure I buy something when I go shopping because I have many times come home empty-handed.

It's interesting that I often pass on buying a new outfit but as a writer I haven't scrimped when it comes to putting out the bucks for writing conferences. I have attended every conference SCBWI-Oklahoma has had since I became involved in 2003, except that one time I was in the hospital. I traveled to Denver for the Boot Camp for Children's Authors, attended both the LA and New York SCBWI Conferences, and I participated in the Highlight's Foundation Chautauqua Children's Writers' Workshop near Buffalo, NY. I did receive a scholarship for Chautauqua but it didn't cover all my expenses.

What is the difference? How can I, a person who is so cautious in spending money on myself, spend it on something that only benefits me, not my family? I think it is because I know I can survive just fine without that expensive outfit or really cute shoes, but I know I can't be the kind of writer I want to be without the benefit of conferences on writing. I come home from every gathering with renewed zeal and energy for my writing. I always learn something new, and the joy of being in a room filled with people who love books and writing as much as I do is priceless.

I believe, even when my middle grade novels find homes and my phone rings with requests for school visits, I will continue to register, pay my fee, take notes, receive inspiration, and encourage other writers at as many conferences as possible. They are worth the time and the money--even better than a new purse.


  1. Helen, I have no doubt that your novels will find homes soon. And you have generous spirit so I'm sure you'll keep going to conferences and others will be inspired by you.

  2. My husband is frugal, too, but he has learned that tools are worth the money he spends on them. That's exactly what these conferences are, writing tools, as important as our computers, books, and critique groups.