Looking at it a different way, if you want to become a world-famous barber, there's no better place to loiter than a barber shop.
A writers conference is a wonderful place to learn more about (1) the craft of writing, (2) how to get published, (3) what's going on in different genres, and (4) how the publishing business really works. It's also a great way to network with other writers and book lovers, and I still keep in touch with folks I met at conferences years ago. Most of all, a writers conference fills me with enough energy and inspiration to keep going for 12 months - until the next conference.
Some conferences are massive events, and you need to be nimble so you're not trampled by eager hordes of authors. I'd like to suggest a small, writer-friendly gathering in one of the most beautiful spots on earth - my home town.
The Flathead River Writers Conference takes place in Kalispell, Montana, within view of the Rocky Mountains on Sat-Sun October 6-7, 2012. It is limited to 100 participants, and full registration is a mere $150. For a rundown on our speakers and other details, follow this link: http://www.authorsoftheflathead.org/conference.asp
Hope to see you there.
Lake McDonald in pristine Glacier National Park, an hour's drive from Kalispell, Montana.