Deb Kerry’s RITA moment

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?

18 Replies to “Deb Kerry’s RITA moment”

  1. Nice to know so many other writers feel socially awkward, too. I’m hoping to make it to my first writers conference next year and I already get butterflies thinking about it. Glad you enjoyed your experiences so much. Maybe some of that RITA magic will wear off on you!

    1. Kerry Ann, I truly believe most writers are a bit socially hesitant, at least. We spend so much time with books and imaginary worlds, and a lot of us are introverts by nature. At the conferences I’ve been to, though, people were incredibly friendly and helpful. As for the RITA magic – here’s hoping! 🙂

  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head with that “introvert” thing. I’m not shy, and I can handle myself in social situations, even ones that are peopled with large numbers of strangers. But it tends to drain me. Solitary pursuits (writing, reading, daydreaming) are where I get my energy. I suspect this may be true of a lot of writers.

    1. Linda – precisely! Many people think that introvert and shy are synonymous terms, and they are definitely not. As you say, the introvert is recharged by solitary pursuits, and the extrovert gets their energy from being around other people. What I found at the conferences, although I definitely did get drained (just ask my roommate, Leigh Evans, about the day I didn’t want to leave the room) but I found that it didn’t happen as fast with writers as it does with other peeps.

    1. Oh, it will definitely change – you’ll be signing your books and stuff! They truly are an amazing amount of fun. Can’t wait to meet you somewhere!!

    1. I agree. Kerry’s just put the cap on writers’ conferences. She wins the “sum up the topic in one line” award for sure.

  3. Someday I am going to invent a writer’s conference that is just a line of bars, one after another, all of which serve nachos. The next morning I will serve a big restorative breakfast and give out awards. I will call it “WIMMER CON.” Who’s in?

  4. I am not a conference gal — probably because there are so few near me. BUT, I love connecting with authors – if you couldn’t tell!! xo

    1. Aww, Amy – we’ll have to change that. Didn’t you see what a fantastic time Kerry had? We’ll have to find one that works for you too!

  5. It looks like you had a fantastic time! I love conferences – and I did actually get my first award at one this year – but you’ll have to wait until Thursday to hear more about it.

  6. I’m about as introverted (and shy) as they come, but I have forced myself to get out of my house and go to a few conferences and am SO GLAD I did. Yes, I felt awkward, but I’ve learned that MOST writers are introvers, so just about everyone feels awkward. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. I’ve made long lasting friendships and connections with people that I never would have made otherwise, so yeah, I’m a big fan, even though I do still get palpitations just thinking about meeting a ton of strangers.

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