If you know everybody can’t get to your national writer’s conference, what do you do? Well, if you’re Romance Writers of Australia, you organise a Clayton’s Conference. What’s that? Clayton’s is one of those brand names like Hoover and Google, which has passed into the common vernacular – in Australia, anyway. Clayton’s, a kind of adult cordial, was advertised as ‘the drink you have when you’re not having a drink’. So a Clayton’s Conference is the conference you have when… and you do it online because then everybody can get there from anywhere. (Ain’t the internet grand?)
A bunch of hard-working ladies put together a wonderful, three day program to coincide with the real RWA conference in Melbourne. It included a number of workshops on topics like the art of novel writing, how to write a synopsis and how to pitch; writing challenges, a treasure hunt (really) and lots of fun stuff. They even organised goody bags for the attendees and prizes for participants.
It was a blast. I’ve done lots of workshops and courses but there’s always something you can glean from an event like this. The organisers had lined up some excellent presenters from the US and NZ as well as Australia. I was reminded of many things I’d been told but had slipped out of memory, tried a few things I hadn’t had the courage to attempt and made a whole raft of new writer friends. To be specific, I came away enthused to substantially review my WIP, to make it edgier and introduce more conflict. I wrote a piece of flash fiction which I will expand into a short story. And I won a prize. Oh, and I went and bought, read and reviewed a book by a newly-discovered friend.
I thought this was the second year RWA has run the Clayton’s Conference, but I’ve been corrected – the first was in 2005, so they’re experts at it now. I’ll no doubt go to the real deal next year, since it’s just down the road at the Gold Coast. But if you can’t make it, I’d recommend the Clayton’s as a great alternative. My thanks to the organisers. Five stars, all.