The topic of the week here at the Ball is “Writer’s Conferences,” or “Interacting With Other Writers.” As it turns out, I like this topic. I’ve had great experiences both with conferences and other writers, both online and in person.
This summer, I celebrated my first ever publishing contract by attending two big writer’s conferences: RT and RWA. That, for a neophyte conference attendee, is a heck of a lot of conference.
I worried. Social situations are not my strong suite. It’s not that I’m shy – I just happen to be an introvert. Crowds tend to overwhelm me and make me want to crawl under a rock. I often feel awkward and out of place at social events, counting the minutes until I can make a break for it and flee without appearing rude. I was excited about meeting people – especially all of the writer friends I’ve known for years only on Twitter – but also scared to death. Questions came up such as, “What does a woman who usually wears blue jeans and t-shirts wear to such an event?” and “Am I really going to have to shop for shoes?”**
But when I actually reached my destination something magical happened: I discovered that the people who attend writer’s conferences are writers!
I know, I know. But it was a huge lightbulb moment for me. Social events with writers are easy. If you meet somebody and you don’t know what to say, you can turn to that person and ask, “So, what are you writing?” Or, “What’s your favorite book?” And voila! The conversation is off and running on a topic of mutual interest.
Here’s the other thing I discovered: writers are interesting people. They think. They observe. They have opinions about things. They also have a tendency to like to hang out in the bar. Seriously, if you’ve never been to a conference and are thinking about going, I have one Great Conference Truth to share with you: The Bar is Where the Magic Happens. Even for lightweight drinkers like me. Maybe especially for lightweight drinkers, because most writers seem to have a waay higher tolerance than I do.
As proof that the bar is a place of magic, I present photographic evidence:
All right. So it isn’t really my RITA. And I didn’t really earn a RITA or have one presented to me. But here I am, in the bar with a RITA, and I remember it as a very magical moment. I also concede that this might have had something to do with the champagne.
**As for the dreaded shoe shopping, a group of writer friends on Twitter literally rallied around me and helped me locate and purchase shoes online.
What about you? Have you ever
stolen received an award at a conference? Do you clam up at these events or have an insane amount of fun?