Across the nation, thousands of conferences are held annually for a multitude of industries. In the writing industry alone, there are hundreds. While a good percentage of those conferences focus on the young adult genre, very few of them actually focus on writers who happen to be young adults.
This is what makes Ch1Con so special.
Founded in 2012, the Chapter One Young Writers Conference (a.k.a Ch1Con) began with six teenagers, an online live stream and the topic of writing careers. Bonding through Scholastic’s Write It forum, these young adults stepped off the page and took things to the next level by taking the time to plan a meeting. Three years later, that meeting has turned into a public conference opened to writers between the ages of twelve and twenty-two.
“Ch1Con is designed to be a safe sphere exclusive to young writers where we can share the unique experience that is being a writer at a younger age,” explained Kira Budge, Ch1Con’s Associate Online Administrator.
Budge currently handles the social media accounts for the conference and has been with the team since the beginning. Throughout the years, she’s had the chance to see the conference grow and develop.
“In 2013, we decided to go public and official and began prepping for Ch1Con 2014, which is the first I was able to attend in person.”
The decision to go public not only brought new jobs and responsibilities – it also caused a shift in layout. In the private meetings, each writer shared her own personal strengths with the group. In the public 2014 conference, Budge ran a workshop on first chapters and how to create great beginnings scenes.
But as the conference grows each year, the team has made a goal to bring experienced speakers on board. “We’ve been honored to get some really good speakers, such as this year’s keynote, Kat Zhang, and the team itself has expanded with a few others from the general teen writing community in order to fill the needs of conference management,” said Budge. “It’s been a fantastic process to be a part of.”
There have been challenges along the way. While they have to deal with the usual stuff, like taxes and legal issues, they also have to deal with adults. “Being taken seriously by adults, on one level, is hard because of their place as ‘gatekeepers’ in the industry,” admitted Budge. “It’s been incredibly educational, though!”
Through it all, Budge knows that the best thing about Ch1Con is the people.
“I will never regret our decision to design this conference to be focused solely on young writers, because the environment and the way we all click, it’s beyond anything I could have imagined,” said Budge. “In 2014, I felt the power of it just deep inside of me, being with people of similar interests and similar life experiences as my own. I enjoyed it so much and I felt a beautiful kind of belonging being there.”
This year’s conference takes place in Chicago’s Arlington Heights on Saturday, August 8. Registration is currently open on the Ch1Con website for writers from a middle school to undergraduate level and at an early bird discount price of $39.99. It will focus on a majority of topics including the publication process, revising and world building. Guest speakers include Kat Zhang (The Hybrid Chronicles). Literary agent Louise Fury of the Bent Agenc, will open to queries only from conference attendees for up to thirty days after the event.