Of Conferences and Budgets: Or, In Which Rebekah Lacks Money for Extras

I had to make a hard decision last week, but I know it was the right one. I’ve crunched and re-crunched the numbers and the budget and all our upcoming really-need-to-be-done-ASAP projects, and it’s just not possible. 

I will not be going to the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. annual conference this year. I’m not incredibly disappointed – last year was my big year there, after all. But I am sad I’m going to miss seeing several friends, because sometimes the OWFI conference is the only place I see some of them.

But I don’t have any contest entries for OWFI this year, because anything I could enter would be the same category I won last year, and I’m not allowed to enter that category at all this year because… well, I won last year.

I, honestly, haven’t even renewed my OWFI membership for 2013-2014… because I don’t have $20 that isn’t already slotted for something else.

Photo by 401(k) 2012
Photo by 401(k) 2012

I thought about applying for a scholarship – that’s how I attended OWFI the first time I went. But I can’t swing the money for a hotel room, either, even splitting it with several people like I’ve always done. A friend offered to let me stay with them, instead of at a hotel, but I was also leaning toward not going because…

I’ve gone to a lot of conferences the past couple years. I’ve traveled more in the past two years, I think, than I have in my entire life except for when my parents dragged me along in the move from Idaho to Oklahoma – when I was a year old.

I’ve focused a lot on improving my craft the past two years, because that’s what conferences help you do.

I need to find inspiration again.

And then an opportunity fell into my lap.

For a little over a year now (or maybe two years. Time flies and I’m terrible at keeping track of it.) I’ve followed author/blogger Jami Gold. (I don’t comment near as often as I read, sadly.)

Jami Gold made a post the other day about WANACon.

I’d been eyeing WANACon since the first one they put on last year, and I very much liked the idea of being able to attend a conference without actually leaving my house. I’d tried the Muse Online Writer’s Conference (which is free, just fyi for the rest of you on a tight budget, too) a couple of times before, but honestly I miss the live atmosphere of an actual conference. Forums just don’t give feedback and interaction the same way.

But WANACon was still nearly $150. That’s the same price as the OWFI conference (or at least what OWFI has been in past years), so there still wasn’t room in the budget for it.

I kept reading through Jami’s post. And then I hit gold.

They’re looking for moderators for the online sessions.

And if you’re selected, and can moderate at least three sessions, you get a full refund of your registration for WANACon once you’ve fulfilled the promised commitment.

It was a deal I couldn’t pass up.

So I’ve turned in my application to volunteer, and we’ll see how things go!

Otherwise, the only other conference I’m going to try to attend for sure is the Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers in October. Because it’s (usually) only $50, and it’s local. Seriously, it’s 20 minutes from my house. And that’s only if traffic is bad.

And if the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers puts together another (free) Tulsa Creative Writers Conference this year, I will attend that as well. But for the most part, in 2014 I’m going to focus on being re-inspired.

And on spending less money.

Are you going to have to sacrifice something in the upcoming year, something you really want to do and would be good for you, for another priority?

Or, on a happier note, which conferences are you looking forward to this year?

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About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.