With the world of a writer being so lonely at times, I'm a big fan of conferences. It's a place to engage in a community. A way to remind yourself that you're not alone in the process, even if you're the only one writing your story. People working through similar struggles (whether it's writer's block, a long string of rejections, poor sales, or any other number of issues that writers face) can commiserate and encourage each other not to give up.
The writing organization I belong to (RMFW) is holding their annual conference this Friday through Sunday (note that Emily's weekly post will be replaced with a special announcement since she'll be at the conference very early and all weekend). I love this conference, and I look forward every year to meeting up with writers who I tend to only see at this event. It gives me a chance to chat with them about their projects, hear how they're doing with their process, and often enough, we get to hang out with editors and agents who are there to teach and take pitches.
Even though I won't be pitching this year (formally, at least), getting to know editors and agents is one of my favorite parts of the conference. Not because I'm "making contacts," but because I get to meet people with a different perspective. In fact, I try to go out of my way to make them feel welcome, since they're coming into a very tight-knit group and can feel like outsiders. And many of them feel pressured to listen to pitches all the time, even when they just want to eat food. My thought is that, if they feel welcome and unpressured, they'll be more likely to come back.
If you're able to go to a conference, I strongly recommend it. Beyond the Trope wouldn't exist if the three of us hadn't invested our time in a writing conference, and the three of us could very-well be going insane, trying to do this all on our own.