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Chivalry is not dead

August 12, 2012

by Chris Coward

It’s not true what they say in the writers’ blogs. Okay, it is true that writing is a solitary activity; true, that our lives are packed; true, that eking out time to write is a fight.

But it’s not true that we isolate ourselves.

We writers have—need—our “tribe,” and when it comes to helping one another, chivalry is not dead. Consider the volunteers for the annual Florida Writers Conference. These are writers—writers who devote thousands of hours to the conference.

For free. For you. For your career.

Although most of our volunteers’ yearlong efforts come to fruition around September, accomplishments to date are impressive:

  • 38 faculty
  • Schedules for workshops and conference activities
  • Room configurations, AV, menus, and myriad other logistics
  • 21 Dedicated and dozens of support volunteers
  • 229 registrations (371 to go!)
  • 49 Silent Auction donations
  • 70 faculty interviews
  • 5 sponsors
  • 7 exhibitors
  • 10 donations for each of 600 conference goodie bags
  • 31 door prizes (some worth hundreds of $s)
  • 30 conference blog posts, 5 conference-specific e-Blasts, and 14 conference articles for The Florida Writer
  • Media coverage, including a page in the national trade magazine The Writer [link to PDF] and syndicated radio coverage
  • Administration of the 319-entry-strong RPLA writing competition

Just the beginning.

Okay, you didn’t think we’d get through a post without a photo! Here goes. My miniscule piece of the action is marketing, which includes arranging for and hauling stuff to the conference: goodie bags, signage, door prizes, programs, equipment, and more. Hauling is a group effort, where members in my area caravan to the conference. Even now, the boxes gather in my front foyer; every week, I take them to the FWA storeroom. Here’s this week’s haul. 

 No, chivalry is not dead. Not when it comes to Writers Helping Writers. The thousands of hours that volunteers devote to the conference are for you: to find your agent, meet your publisher, get the scoop on the industry, and discover your writing tribe.

Click here for the names, photos, and email addresses of leaders and point people for the conference committees. If you get a chance, thank them! Click here if you want to join the fun—and fun it is.

What support are you looking for from fellow writers? How do you want to support your tribe?

Chris Coward is a member of the FWA Board of Directors, the 2012 FWA conference marketing chairperson, and group leader for the Oxford Writers FWA critique group. She is a former college English instructor, magazine editor, marketing director, and speech writer.


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