Back in February (yes it has been a while since my last entry) I attended the Durango Songwriter's Expo in Ventura California. I can honestly say that it was the best music conference experience that I have had to date. Strangely enough, it had nothing to do with the location, the speakers or the classes. Don't get me wrong, Jim Attebery did a great job as usual putting together an engaging event in a fabulous location (it was Ventura California after all, and the ballroom view overlooking the Pacific Ocean is pretty spectacular) but the reason the event stood out for me was simply put...the people. That might seem obvious to some, but my bet is more than a fair share of folks attend these events because they hope that some publisher or record producer is going to hear their amazing potential and swoop them up into the wild world of the dream fulfilling music business. Some are probably pretty oblivious to the other writers around them except for maybe a reality check for better or for worse. Heaven knows that I have had that mindset in the past and I see it now in many of the younger, less experienced, writers. Let's face it, that is a pretty inward focused mindset... "what's in it for me?." A lot of folks live their whole lives with this mindset. When we live like this the best we can hope to wind up with in the end is a bunch of what we have spent our time focused on, ourselves. That's not a very rewarding or fulfilling prize for all our efforts. I have been writing songs for a long time (let's not think too much about that :-)) It has only been for the past two years, however, that I have really focused on networking with other writers and maybe it was as recent as February when I finally realized the real benefit of networking does not lie in my success as a writer, but in what I get from networking. What I get is PEOPLE. I have made it to the place where I can walk into a room at these events and usually know several of the faces and often the stories behind the faces as well. The immediate and maybe ultimate reward for throwing yourself wholeheartedly into the crazy mix of creatives that inhabit this songwriting universe is getting to know some amazing people. Rubbing shoulders and sharing your life and a common passion with a bunch of wonderful folks who don't all look, dress or think like you makes you a better writer and a better human being. Remembering this can change the question from, "What's in it for me?" to, "What can I bring to them?" That's a life altering question that changes our focus from inward to outward. For me, it was this change in mindset that made the event in February so much fun. As I spend the next few days here in Nashville, I am looking for opportunities to have some time with friends old and new and I am remembering just how fortunate I am to have each of them in my life.