Pondering the value of attending a writing conference?
Here are some reasons to bother going:
1) Network with other writers. Talk to people who "get" you. You don't have to assume you're the only one who hears voices and entire pages of dialoge running through your head anymore. Suddenly *you're* not the weird one. It's like when the ugly duckling showed up in swan-land. Ta-da!
2) Learn more about the craft. Conference organizers work like maniacs to assemble charismatic faculty with presentations on a wide variety of topics. Check the workshop and class lineup when you're registering! The conference I attended this weekend had classes like writing by gleaning stories from genealogy, songwriting (with a mind-opening step by step), how to write a query, how to write a pitch, how to make your writing pay, and many more.
3) Possibly meet agents and pitch your work. From what I've heard, and now that I've seen it in action, I believe wholeheartedly, an agent or editor is a bazillion times more likely to request pages from you if he or she has met you and heard you be enthusiastic about your work during a pitch. Otherwise, all you are is a query letter in the big, icky, disgust-inducing stack on the front desk of an agency. Wouldn't you rather be a smiling face and a witty remark in the memory of an agent who got wined and dined at a conference? Yes, you would. Even if it means the agonizing torment of preparing for the pitch session.
4) Get re-motivated to write. Going to conferences has pumped up my enthusiasm to write. The workshops always make me reexamine my work and improve what I've already written, and improve it. Conferences also always make me a little introspective; I always seem to spend a few hours musing on what exactly it is I want to do with my writing, how I actually picture my writing career going, where I want to go next, and more important, what I don't want to do.