Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Go to Conferences?

Last week, at this time, I was just returning from Dallas, Texas, after attending the Romance Writers of America's national conference. It was an awesome time. Picture yourself sitting among 2000 authors. The hum of voices rises to the ceiling. The clicking of laptop keys echoes in the background. The scratching of pens accompanies the above. It's a great time to be a writer. Not only do we have how-to books, online workshops, college classrooms, and friends that urge us along our path, but it's not that hard to find a weekend with a writing conference planned.

I've attended many.

As an unpubbed author, I remember being dreamy-eyed impressed with those who had somehow attained the magical status of published. I can remember sitting at tables with authors whose books graced my bookcases. I remember sitting in workshops where every word was gold and dutifully recorded in my notebooks.

As a seasoned unpubbed author, I remember being sharp-eyed, impressed with those who had not given up because the path was not easy. Being published is not 'really' a magical status, it's a hard-fought, hard-won status. I can remember sitting in hotel lobbies and realizing that networking is the best tool of all. I remember about this time I was more critical of the books that were to grace my bookcase. I was reading more like a writer than a reader and boy you'd better impress me. I remember picking and choosing workshops not because I liked the speaker, but because I needed the topic.

As a multi-published author, I am the droopy-eyed, overbooked, author who knows that I need to keep up with the market, know who the movers and shakers are, and listen. The magic disappeared when deadline realities appeared. It's a wonderful feeling. Oh, and a by product of having deadlines is... the books on my shelves are yelling for me - no begging! - for me to "Come read us. We miss you." The newest Harry Potter book, dutifully purchased the day 'after' it came out will be first. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum is tapping her foot and scolding, "You're two behind!" and then there's the newest Heather Graham. The workshops aren't as much fun because craft is no longer the 'only' goal. Now it's understanding contracts, bookstore etiquette, and numbersnumbersnumbers.

You know what? I can hardly wait for San Francisco. I'll be even more dreamy-eyed, sharp-eyed, and droopy-eyed. Please sit down beside me and say, "Isn't this fun!"

I'll be sure to say YES!

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