Sunday, June 19, 2011

RWA National - Take Two

I've gotten to the "this time next week..." stage of anticipation about RWA National, held this year in New York City.  Not yet freaked out by everything I have to do (ironing and packing - oy vey!), but well aware that it's right around the corner.  A corner I can see from here.

I'm excited, and nervous of course.  I understand now that last year's National was a dress rehearsal, a chance for me to make ALL the mistakes when it didn't matter so much.

I did make those mistakes -- which I won't itemize here, just trust me that Mistakes Were Made -- and I learned from them.  I will try really hard not to make them again.  Because it matters a lot more this year, when I have a real book (a book that's finished and, more importantly, is pretty good) to pitch.

The challenge this year will be to socialize a lot more, meet more people, get together with the people I've known for years (Hi, Sharyn!), and all the people I've gotten to know online since last year's National.  That sounds easy, but for all that I come across as confident and self-assured, I'm not.  Especially with people I've only just met.  I worry I'm too loud, talking too much, talking too little, coming across as arrogant or just plain boring.  I'm convinced people don't like me.

That's not an invitation to assure me you like me.  I actually know at some level that most people like me well enough.  Some people don't, which is fine, and some people like me a lot, which is nice.

You know where this is going, don't you?  It's all about self-acceptance.  I'm the only person who has to think I'm speaking in a soft enough voice, not monopolizing the conversation, not showing off.  Part of that is to actually not do those things (duh) but the harder part is to reassure myself that I'm not doing those things...and then let it go.

That goes for my writing.  What's the flaw in the space-time continuum that makes us LOVE our bad first books (to the point of volitional blindness) but doubt our undeniably better second books?  (Or is that just me?)  There is a silver-lining to this phenomenon:  it means I'm more open to criticism of work that will actually benefit from it.

So I go next week to be with friends, make new friends, introduce myself to people who may be able to help my writing career, and tell a few professionals about Blackjack & Moonlight.  It's not yet the "other convention" that Emily Bryan (now writing as Mia Marlowe) wrote about last year -- the convention that you attend after you've gotten "the call" -- but it's not the head-down, one workshop after another, convention that I attended last year.

Last year, I went to National as a wannabe writer.  I'll go this year as a wannabe author.  I'm hoping next year to go to the post-"the call" convention.  I don't mind that I don't get to go to that this year -- among other things, I think there's that much more schmoozing involved.  Like my writing, my schmoozing skills are improving, but they're not ready for the big time.



  1. Janet W ~ I don't think we can be reminded often enough that life ~ and especially America ~ is the land of do-overs & 2nd chances: thanks for reminding me that it's really a privilege to get to have another kick at the can. My guess is that there will be lots of newbies that are even more nervous than the sophomore crowd & that you'll have more fun than you anticipate. But not over-expecting is brilliant!

  2. Hi Magdalen--
    Good luck and (more important!) Have Fun!!
    It has been a treat watching you gain self-confidence in your writer persona. I have every confidence that you will rock.
    (Alas, my crystal ball is cloudy about whether you will succeed in selling B&M at this convention.....)

  3. Thanks, Janet & Barbara --

    I will report back, but I agree that it will go better than last year. Knowledge and experience really are priceless in this context.


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