Trust me, no one loves the solitude of writing more than I do. I crave small, dark rooms. I relish working alone and in silence. If it were possible to write in a vacuum, I would. But I know, and we all know, that we can't. We need other people, not only to read our writing, but to critique it, massage it, cajol it, and sometimes even like it. So we join writers' groups, or apply to MFA programs, or apply to writers conferences, all in hopes of finding that writerly community where our work, and our personalities, fit in.
So how many of you are considering (or are already planning to attend) a writers conference? I've been attending the same conference for eight years now, and I can't imagine a summer without it. *FULL DISCLOSURE - I work for the Southampton Writers Conference, so yes, I'm biased.* Having said that, there are a lot of conferences in the country to choose from, so you'll need to figure out what you are looking for in a conference experience before you find the one that is right for you. Are you looking to study with a particular teacher? Are you looking for industry contacts/meet-and-greet opportunities? Are you looking for a friendly, fun atmosphere or a more competitive one? Are you looking at conferences that are sponsored by MFA programs that you would like to apply to next year? It's a good way to learn about a program without making a commitment. It also gives the program a chance to learn about you, which may help them when assessing your MFA application (and a letter of recommendation from a workshop leader never hurts either).
So what interests you about the conference experience? What would deter you? I'm more than happy to give advice based on my own conferencing adventures. Let the comments begin.
*Also, a suggestion from a friend: "Read MFA programs' literary journals and magazines. Again, another window into prospective MFA programs. You can take a stab at reviewing one, too. NewPages has an open call for reviewers. See their website for guidelines."*