I've just returned from 10 days in New York City, about half of which were spent at RWA's yearly national conference. That's when a couple thousand romance authors gather together and talk shop. How to write better, how to sell better, what's the state of the industry.
I went to college in NYC and graduate school in Boston, so this year's conference also gave me the opportunity to visit with some of my favorite people, friends who I don't get to see very often, to visit some old haunts and enjoy a bit of city living. I went to plays, I went to museums, I went to restaurants, I went to parks... I used to visit the Met often enough to take it for granted. This time around, it staggered me.
This was my third National conference but my first as a published author. I showed up with a different attitude than I've had before--I wanted to learn, I wanted to connect with online friends. I did not want to hustle. The conference can be terrifying if you see it as Your One Chance to.... do whatever. Find an agent or a publisher or a mentor.
I promised myself that I'd be natural, or as close to it as I could. That I wouldn't drive myself crazy with high expectations. If I make a few friends, have a few good conversations, see a few friendly faces, I figure I'm doing pretty well.
I loved the workshops and, since I decided to buy the conference recordings this year, I didn't have to stress about which ones to attend. Whatever I missed, I'd listen to later. Of the workshops I did attend, Sherry Thomas's workshop on Subtext and Joanna Bourne & Grace Burrowes's workshop on ten tips to tighten your prose were highlights.
So maybe I'm projecting, but I thought the mood at the conference was pretty low-key this year. The keynotes struck an overall note of, "Chin up, we all have rough patches but there's a light at the end of the tunnel." That's a good message, and an encouraging one, but doesn't exactly saw at the heartstrings.
I might have more to add later. I've definitely got a mini-review post coming up in the next week or so. In the meanwhile, happy reading.