I just spent three days with inspirational people. All writers: Poets, novelists, journalists, memoirists, bloggers and more, united by a shared love for the written word.

The 65th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference brought together nearly 200 writers of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and I had the privilege of teaching the nonfiction book workshop.

I’ve plugged the PWC in the past as an opportunity to learn from professionals and, even rarer, to meet privately with agents and editors. I’m fairly confident that this year’s attendees left feeling motivated and informed. I know I did.

Conversations covered a wide range of topics such as finding an agent, publishing in eBook format, using social media, and balloon fetishism. Really. Writers tend to be soooooooooooooooooooo interesting.

Although I am fortunate to be a published author I can remember being in the shoes of aspiring writers and shoving rejection after rejection into a folder (unmarked) which I hid deep in the back of the file cabinet. I couldn’t bring myself to toss those letters but I also didn’t want to reread them.

Like all the workshop leaders at this year’s PWC, I want to support and encourage the impressive students I met. So, if they are reading this blog, keep pursuing your dream regardless of the challenges. Take comfort in knowing that even Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler experienced rejections.

Imagine if he had quit.