While on my red-eye flight to Washington, D.C. this past week (I always slap myself for taking those late night flights), so many thoughts were passing through my mind. Many consisted of how I would ninja myself into a fancy VIP event at the White House, but also about the conference I was heading there to attend.
Eat, Write, Retreat promised to be a weekend full of hands-on workshops, expert panels, and, of course, food, lots and lots of food! This was Eat, Write, Retreat‘s inaugural conference, my first as well, so I was excited to see how it would all play out.
(note: All pictures courtesy of Kimmy Bingham, unless otherwise noted on image)
When I entered the Friday night meet and greet, I set out to prove that I was not a twitter recluse (aka chatty online/wallflower in person…Can boys be wallflowers? Anyway…). Turning on the charm, smile, and occasional wink, I was poised and ready to meet my fellow Eat, Write, Retreat-ers.
There is always this slight set of nerves that kick in before meeting someone off the internet in-person. You always wonder…’What if they turn out to be an axe-murderer?” or ‘What if they were lying online and actually turn out to be an interior design blogger?‘ You know, those kinds of things. Luckily, this conference turned out to be axe-murderer and design blogger free! I think. Jokes aside, I was genuinely amazed by how many great individuals I got to know over the three days that would follow.
Here are some key things that I took away from this weekend:
- Never stop learning: I know that sounds infinitely cheesy, but after spending two hours in a writing workshop with Monica Bhide, I was inspired. She had a captivating presence, and I was fully receptive to the entire presentation. Taking a snippet from her workshop’s ‘homework’, whether it’s a new word every day, or a new story every week, being open to new experiences makes for a better writer.
- Nothing happens over night: During a great panel session with Domenica Marchetti, Jennifer Perillo, Shauna James Ahern, and Jael McHenry I learned that if you do what you love, then the reward will come to you. The second you start to think things like: ‘I want more readers now!‘ or ‘I deserve a cookbook deal!‘ you’re compromising the quality behind your work. To steal a line from one of my favourite books, Shoeless Joe, ‘If you build it, they will come.’
- Everyone has a story: I found that meeting countless individuals, so passionate about their writing, regardless of the focus, created a vested interest for myself in each one of them. It’s one thing to follow someone on Twitter, chat online, and read their blog posts, but when you’re standing in front of someone and hearing why they do what they do, write what they write, it really resonates. Not that online relationships are purely superficial, but there is something to be said about a real face-to-face conversation. Now, I can read these blogs through the person’s point of view, not the other way around. I kind of rambled there…does that make sense?
There is so much more I could talk about this weekend. Eating freshly steamed crabs at the D.C. fish market with fellow Canadians Ethan and Isabelle with our bare hands, having lunch with author Jael McHenry, touring the Washington monuments with D.C. local Maisha, or even cooking like show-offs with Mike and Kimmy during our CulinAerie culinary session.
I truly treasured each moment of this experience.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Casey Benedict and Robyn Webb for creating, and making, Eat, Write, Retreat such an amazing experience. Also to Canadian Beef for giving me (and the other four lucky Canadians, whole gang pictured below!) the opportunity to attend this conference. It was a weekend I will not soon forget!
23 Comments to “A Food Blog Conference By Any Other Name Would Not Be As Eat, Write, Retreat”
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