Romancing the Conferences with RWA
A year ago at this time I was prepping to go to the big gig in NYC. As I’m scanning the Twitter feed it’s full of writers packing up and heading to San Diego for this year’s conference. I’m so relieved I’m not one of them. The view from my room in Times Square was incredible, but the national RWA conference nearly broke me. It was tough and I needed to gain some distance. Finally a whole 365 days later, I feel ready and am able to share some words about the greatest, yet worst experience in my writing career.
A year ago my writing mojo was strong and eager.
For the conference, I had packed and was ready with my A-game. My pitch was superb. My book was complete at 80,000 words. It was and still is a great story. My attire was professional. My excitement was contained with my mantra of goals:
1.} Meet a few writers…OM…
2.} Talk writing…OOMMM…
3.} Get an agent. OMMM…
4.} See as much of New York City as possible. OOOMMM!
I had a plan. What the heck could go wrong? I was traveling to thee greatest city in the world and hanging with romance writers for a week.
But it was too big.
It was too big. Not the city. Yes, it’s big but I was prepared for the size and raucous energy. But the conference was vast and cold. It felt like I’d traveled to Hoth. As I waited to check in at the Marriot Marquis, my mojo started to shiver. The marble-topped tables were surrounded by women staring at their tablets and phones. The hotel was glorious, but it took four hours to get into my room. I ventured into a workshop designed for newbies.
I sat so far back I could barely hear the speakers. Some of them were authors I adored. I wanted to meet them, but we might as well have been on two different planets. The crowd of women was thick. Instead, I tried to chat with those around me, but only received curt hellos, a few business cards and lots of muted looks that appeared to say, “Please buy my book.”
My mojo was set straight as reality set in. This wasn’t a great big craft-loving-romance-writing conference. It was a parade of stressed-out writers, wannabe authors, and authors with big egos who wanted to sell and expound with one-ups-man-ship. I was underwhelmed with my gender kin. The vast majority of women were cool and standoffish. They stayed close to their cliques.
It was an element in life I had forgotten about, but quickly remembered it and how I had despised it: exclusion.
The conference reminded me of those days of being disqualified from the popular table in high school. The feeling was intense and sharp. It hadn’t dulled after so many years and still was able to slice into my soul. The divisions between published and unpublished were crystal clear. All the published authors were invited to the balls and galas. The unpublished were left on their own to search for warmth on the planet Hoth.
I ran to #4 on my mantra list. I got on the kick-ass elevator, shouted hello to New York, and said good-bye to the conference. It wasn’t for me.
I write. I like talking really loud about the beauty of romance stories. Happily-ever-afters are planted deep in my crazy soul. But this conference dwarfed my voice. I felt lost, so I explored NYC and found a piece of solid footing.
In May my mojo appeared long enough to attend the Chicago North RWA’s Spring Fling.
This conference picked me up, dusted me off and repaired me after last year’s RWA Nationals in New York.
My colleague Karen Miller is a Golden Heart finalist for her historical romance, Saving Columbine Ranch. So the gals in WisRWA gathered at the Spring Fling to celebrate. We couldn’t be more proud of our writing-sister.
On Saturday night, I’ll put on my soft pants, grab a glass of wine and watch the live stream of the Golden Heart Ceremony on my computer. I’m crossing my legs for comfort and my fingers for Karen.
It’s taken a year, but I’m almost all defrosted from my Hoth experience at the New York conference. I hope Karen has a wonderful time in San Diego. Thanks to the conference in Chicago, I found my voice again. It’s the power of romance that set me on track and its positivity pulled me back into my writing chair.
I’m diving in and will be finishing book #2 in the Just Desserts series.