Answer: I don't know.
As a writer I have been attending writing events for a measly 3 years. Before that I :
- Didn't know they existed until about 5 years before that
- It took me several years to work up the courage to really take stock of them, my writing, and my life
- I just simply could not afford them.
- I did not know what value they would have
Now that I do know about them and have been to several I have come to realise:
- VALUE: Yes there is a value to them and it is different to each of us, and different each time.
- NETWORKING: The so called networking benefits are limited. Networking takes time and energy and requires participation on both sides. 'Send me/I'll send you an email' requires the action of someone sending the initial email and then the receiver of the email to respond.
- LEARNING. I attend workshops that I think will be beneficial to me. I go to events with the intention of coming away having learnt something. Some times I have been reminded, had the memory jogged, of something that I learnt before but for one reason or another forgotten about. The day I say 'I've learnt nothing' is the day I will hang up my pen and paper.
- COST/BENEFIT: Do the benefits outweigh the costs? The advertised cost of $X soon turns into a blowout when travel expenses, accommodation, and meals, are added. Then there is the cost of those additional master classes and workshops that are add-ons to the core festival costs. Finally, there are the purchases: the books, the souvenirs, the raffle tickets, etc.
- PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Sometimes you have to wonder whose development. Yours, the developing writer, or the facilitators' and organisers'? How many of the facilitators did you hear of or know about before the event? True, you can not know every one, and many of them are very good and exceptional facilitators. Others are a sad disappointment and leave you wondering if they were really worth the time and energy let alone the money. When it all comes together it is a great success and a wonderful time. But how do you follow-up and convert what you learned? How does this workshop or that one develop you professionally?
The list can go on.
I started out to say I had a good time at the writing events I have attended and the benefits far outweighed the costs and disappointments. How wonderful they were, and the beautiful, interesting people I met. Then I got sidetracked. So instead of pondering the pros and cons just let me say, if you are prepared to pay the money then make the most of them, define your own win-win situation and ENJOY them.