Wednesday, August 2, 2017

CONFERENCE ENVY by Hannah Rowan



By now most of the authors who attended Romance Writers of America’s 2017 national conference have probably headed home, exhausted and inspired by a week or so of mingling with fellow writers and industry professionals.  They’re back in their sweats and yoga pants and t-shirts, maybe hunkered down in front of their computers with vast quantities of coffee and chocolate.

I didn’t go to RWA this year, but as I scrolled through Facebook posts showcasing the festivities, I was really, really jealous.

My friends posted photos of themselves in their conference finery, and an alarming number of people posted pictures of food and drinks.  Some really tasty-looking food and drinks.  More importantly, they posted pictures of themselves hugging friends they may not have seen since last year’s conference.

I have mixed feelings about the national conference.  It’s an experience hard to describe to those who’ve never gone.  It’s like a week out of time, when someone else comes along to make your bed each morning and you never have to cook a meal.

Yes, there are workshops on every aspect of the writing life imaginable.  There are endless giveaways of free books.  Free books!  And chocolate.  Lots and lots of chocolate.

The most important part of the conference for me is catching up with friends.  I love walking up and down the rows at the literacy signing, looking for people I know (and buying their books!) and meeting people for meals or for late night chats.

By the time a year has passed I forget how overwhelming it is to be thrust into a closed atmosphere with a few thousand women and to rush to various workshops, meals, and maybe squeeze in a bit of sightseeing.  At times I simply have to retreat to my room for some alone time, maybe a cup of tea, some reading, and of course, chocolate.

The upside is that nobody thinks it’s strange when a fellow writer suddenly gets up and announces that they have to be alone for a while.  And nobody thinks it’s strange to see a fellow writer staring off into space, muttering to herself about some idea that just popped into her head.

It’s so exciting to listen to people talk about what they’re working on now, or to have someone be interested in what I’m working on.  It’s fun to get dressed up and attend the awards ceremony, especially if a friend is up for an award.

In a week or so, no doubt people will begin sharing the more important things, like publishing trends discussed by editors and agents, and writing tips they learned in workshops.  But at first, they share the excitement of being surrounded by people just like themselves.

I’ll soon go to a local conference and have a similar experience in a much shorter period of time, but just as exciting and just as exhausting.  And maybe next year I’ll gird my loins and head for national.
Until then, I content myself with browsing Facebook and feeling just a little tinge of jealousy.

3 comments:

  1. Yup. Me, too. I've only been to one national conference, and while I loved it, it was definitely sensory over kill for me. Regional or chapter ones, though--I love them and am on the lookout for a new one to attend!

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    1. I don't know where you live, Liz, but the NJ conference in October is great. We're right next to the city (NYC) so get lots of agents and editors, and very good speakers. Much more manageable, IMHO, than national.

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  2. I haven't been to national for a few years...I see the photos and I wonder if anyone would even remember me if I went. I suppose so...I see lots of people I remember!

    What I miss most is the Harlequin party...now those were really fun!

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