RWA Conference Oh-Nine, Oh, Yes!
Every year, I carefully weigh the decision of whether or not to attend RWA's annual national conference. On the minus side, it's expensive, exhausting, and time-consuming. But there are so many pluses, I keep coming back for more. Here are just a few of the reasons.
1. Seeing old friends and making new ones.
It's wonderful meeting people whose eyes light up, rather than glazing over, when the conversation turns to books and writing. From my old friends, many of whom have gone on to great success, I not only derive great pleasure but hard-won wisdom. From those struggling toward publication, I gain an appreciation for the drive, energy, and raw hope needed for the effort. From the newest of the newbies, I smile with the memory of how amazing, terrifying, and exciting this gathering of 2,000 writers and publishing professionals was to me ten years before. (I nearly passed out the first time I rode in the elevator with Nora Roberts. Ten years later, I'm still such a fan girl around superstars like Linda Howard, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Sharon Sala, though Sharon's become a very good friend.)
2. Connecting with publishing pros.
There's nothing like a face-to-face meeting with your agent or editor to make sure everyone's on the same page. If you don't have an agent or editor, this is a great place to see them in action and/or ask those working with them for their impressions. Just remember, one author's dream agent/editor/publishing house is another's nightmare (and vice versa), so take each person's experience as a piece of the puzzle, not the whole picture.
3. Learning something new.
Whether it's getting a feeling for the latest emerging trend, improving your craft, or honing your business skills and knowledge of the industry, there's always something new to learn. RWA national strives to select a broad range of workshops from the best of the best presenters, but frankly, I've learned as much or more from networking with other conference attendees as in any presentation.
4. Soaking up creative juices.
The cloud of creativity floating above 2,000 writers and publishing pros is so charged with hopeful excitement that it's hard not to be struck by powerful new ideas. I can't tell you how many books I've written have come to pass because an idea has caught fire at a conference -- ignited by some workshop, meeting, or passing comment.
5. Glamming it up for a change.
Since I spend 99% of my summer in denim capris, tees, and Birkenstocks (I make no claims as to fashion sense), it's fun to dress in grown-up clothes and even glam it up now and then. And the Golden Heart and Rita award celebration is as good of an excuse as any. Besides, I *love* seeing my pals dressed up.
Pictured, fellow Rita finalist and pal Terri Brisbin and me just before the awards ceremony. Neither of us went home with golden ladies this year (congrats to the talented NYT bestselling Cindy Gerard, who won in my category, Romantic Suspense!) but we left there smiling nonetheless. (That line about it being an honor to be nominated in such company... I really mean that!)
6. Partying with pals.
I am soooo not a party animal, it's pathetic. But even I was rocking at my very first Harlequin party. Most of the publishers host some sort of dinner or reception, and it's a great chance to connect with fellow authors and the publishing pros in a fun, social setting. And since you automatically have someting in common with these people, there's none of the awkward standing around that dominates so many of my non-writing social forays.
Not pictured, now or ever (I pray): me dancing!
All in all, conference was a great time. But it may take me 12 months to rest up for next summer in Nashville!