Quills: A New World of Friends
By Becca Rose
Walking into a building of strangers and leaving with a new world of friends.
2021 was my first time attending the Quills Conference, put on by the League of Utah Writers. After only recently jumping back into the writing world, I lucked into winning a scholarship ticket from the bookstore, Under the Umbrella. I expected to be amazed, but the experience was more mind-blowing than imaginable.
A great benefit of attending the conference was the keynote speakers, and the meals served before they spoke. The beautifully prepared food was expertly served, not what I’d expect from a conference setting. Not only was I nourished in body but also in mind, thanks to Cory Doctorow, Paisley Rekdal, and Aminah Mae Safi. These speakers opened my mind through education and inspiration I didn’t even know I needed. Just these speakers alone made the conference unreal.
You don’t know what you don’t know until you know. The sessions that I attended had just the information I needed, given by people who knew what they were talking about. As a queer black woman, I chose to attend two sessions on how to put minority characters in your writing. I was curious but also wanted to make sure I approached the topic correctly with people outside of my race or sexual orientation. Not only did I learn quite a bit, but I respected the way the presenters handled such sensitive subjects.
Each session I attended throughout the conference had valuable information I thought I already knew. YouTube and podcasts can only teach you so much. Making money through writing, how there is no such thing as a purely plot or character writer, and approaching prose with a poetic eye were just a few lessons I needed. Pages of notes were taken, and I started implementing some of the lessons I learned immediately.
Tying up the experience with a neat bow were the people I met. As an introvert, attending conferences isn’t my cup of tea. The pandemic doesn’t help at all either. But from the very moment I registered, I was welcomed. There wasn’t an unkind person at the conference, from the volunteers to attendees and presenters. I made connections with other writers in my area, and I didn’t even know there were so many. The presenters were so open it felt like we were already friends. I didn’t take advantage of the pitch sessions but was still able to socialize with agents at dinner.
There were no levels of importance at the conference. Everyone was treated the exact same; as a friend. As a scholarship winner and someone, not part of the league yet, I thought I might be being treated well in the hopes that I would join. But most of the people I spoke with weren’t even aware I was a scholarship winner until the last day. Even after finding out, nothing changed. There was no way for them to treat me better because they had already been so friendly and supportive.
Every part of the conference was perfect. Attending provided me with the type of networking I’ve never even dreamed of. The people I met and the knowledge gained have made it clear that I never wanted to miss another opportunity like the Quills Conference again.
Customer service by day, killing characters off by night. Every story needs a little darkness to make it more complex and interesting. She listens to music while writing, either classical, alternative, or 90s punk, and reads her work aloud to her three pets. They give excellent feedback.