The Validation of Attending Conferences

Editor’s Note: this post first appeared on the blog that SRU’s Sigma Tau Delta students compile around attending the honor society’s annual conference, this year held in Louisville, Ky.

Emma Cummings, who is both a Theatre major and a Creative Writing major, won an Honorable Mention for Scenic Design, the Vectorworks Award, and the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in January. At the Sigma Tau Delta conference she presented a paper entitled “Not Easy to Love.”


The most intriguing parts of the two sessions I attended today were the questions and discussions after the papers were read. They were thought-provoking, engaging, and refreshing. There were many questions addressed to the panelists that I wanted to answer myself.

First, I attended a session of Creative Non-Fiction works dealing with love and loss. The moderator ended the discussion by asking them why they write. A short, yet totally complex and weighted question. The panelists seemed to answer them with such quick ease (so much that I am envious) and all had distinct reasons for beginning their journeys in writing. But because no one asked me personally, I had to ask myself, why do I write?

Well, I write because it is who I am. It is in my nature to write. When I was a child, I found books on my own. I gravitated toward story telling by some unseen force. I was fascinated by what I read and I wanted to create my own world too.

I write because it is the only way I am able to make sense of anything that happens in my life. I have kept dozens of journals, all probably less interesting than the last. I record everything that happens so I know how I feel about it. Nothing makes sense in my brain until it is copied down on pen and paper. I also fear forgetting each detail and need it all to be documented.

I record everything that happens so I know how I feel about it. Nothing makes sense in my brain until it is copied down on pen and paper.

I write because I cannot think fast enough to speak my mind. I need that time to capture what it is I truly am trying to say. Take this post, for example: if I had been asked this question during my session, I would have stammered out some whirlwind of a response that I would think back on later and kick myself for sounding so incoherent. Instead, I get to sit in this hotel bed on my laptop, analyze my thoughts, and use a thesaurus to cure my chronic brain burps. This post is so long because I did not realize how much I had to say about the subject until sitting down to write it. I could go on with this answer until I have written many volumes of books on why I want to write many volumes of books.

The second really important discussion occurred in the other session I attended on Sci-Fi/Fantasy short stories. An audience member asked the panel how their departments support them not only as writers, but as fantasy writers, and if they ever felt inadequate because of their choices in genre. Most of them answered very similarly and I am grateful that I could relate to them. They each talked about how they have professors and advisors who may try to break them out of their shell, but who also support and push them towards what they are most passionate about. While I am not drawn to fantasy writing, being in a department like ours helps me to uncover my passion and feel connected to those who feel similarly. I am lucky to have never felt inadequate. Freshman year, I would have never thought I would enjoy writing creative non-fiction. Yet here I am, presenting a CNF paper that I am strikingly proud of.

Being surrounded by people with similar passions is a bit of morale boost. It makes you realize that you are not alone in what you love. Attending conferences validates the choices I have made in educational paths. I can do what I love and not have to feel sorry for it.