I feel like I’ve earned the privilege of wearing a T-shirt that reads “I survived RWA 2013 Nationals.” I’m POOPED, y’all.
Since this was my first national conference, I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I’d read recaps from last year and watched some YouTube videos but you don’t really get a feel for the scope of the event until you’re dropped into it.
First off, I found it difficult to be “on” all the time when I was so friggin’ exhausted. The weariness started on Wednesday morning and kept me in a fuzz until I arrived home in Colorado this afternoon. I went to put my daughter down for a nap and ended up snoozing myself until 5:15.
There was some sort of tech conference running concurrently at the Marriott the same time we were there, so my room wasn’t ready when I arrived. I was counting on getting in there to decompress and freshen up before my volunteer shift at the literacy signing, but instead I spent three hours dragging myself around the hotel atrium and sipping Starbucks coffee that might as well had been pure acid (says my stomach). Went to the signing in my travel clothes (and likely with bags under my eyes as I’d been up since 3 a.m. Denver time). That shift ran long, so the dinner I was supposed to attend at eight, I stumbled into late…and the waitress was already taking orders when I got there. I was so tired and hungry at that point, I was shaking, so I went, “Eek,” and took off down the street for spaghetti.
Finally got into my room after dinner and spent the rest of the evening alone, sweating to death under a down cover I was too lazy to throw off.
The sessions started in earnest on Thursday, and I was pretty choosy about how I allotted my time. I attended a few really instructive discussions, enjoyed the luncheons, and relaxed the rest of the time. I didn’t want to burn myself out. I’m on deadline, you know? I didn’t want to come home and be too fried to finish the book that’s due next month.
Now, regarding the publisher-sponsored signings, my plan was to skip them so I wouldn’t have to schlep extra stuff home. But, some way, someHOW, I talked myself into poking my head into one. Harlequin, I think. Grabbed some books.
Then there were more. And more. And I thought, “Oh, I need that paranormal,” or “Hmm. My iPad is running low on kink” (that was at the Samhain signing). Ended up paying FedEx $47 to ship my books home [I don't want to talk about it ].
My sister asked me if it were counter-intuitive for writers to “sell” books to other writers, and I explained that romance is a weird genre that way. Romance readers are voracious and there’s no way one author can write enough books to keep a reader occupied all the time. We try to find other writers who write with similar styles and themes and we push those to our readers to fill their time until our next book comes out.
Naturally, we have to be well-read to know who to suggest. And…maybe there’s a bit of fan-girl in all of us when we’re in the presence of the big names in the industry. Me? I saw Sylvia Day (RWA’s president and the author of a series you may have heard of called CROSSFIRE) and was hypnotized by all that shiny hair. And then there was Nora Roberts’s killer shoes and Zuri Day’s diva sunglasses that had me wishing I were just a wee bit more fabulous.
I didn’t enter a book in the RITA contest this year, but it was still fun to dress up and applaud the winners on Saturday night. (Yes, I did manage to find a red lipstick that didn’t make me look like a $2 ho.)
If I had it to do all over again, would I go?
Yeah. I think so, because now I have expectations in mind and know what to expect for this particular conference. If I were to go again (thinking ahead to San Antonio, 2014), I’d plan to spend more time at the bar and less in conference rooms. The agenda was jam-packed with a lot of valuable nuggets for writers trying to find a foothold in the industry, but a lot of the discussions either weren’t pertinent to my situation, I’d already attended very similar workshops (my local RWA chapter is awesome), or I’d already learned the lesson being taught the hard way.
Now I need to catch up on all the work I didn’t do last week, so…woo!