Today I'm packing my suitcase and checking everything twice. Why? Because tomorrow morning bright and early I'm headed into New York City for the annual Romance Writers of America conference. This is a once-a-year extravaganza during which writers get to live the way popular movies depict authors--being wined and dined by published, having important meetings with editors, signing books for adoring fans--well, that might be a slight exaggeration! But it is fun, busy, and stressful, with all those things packed into four short days.
My first conference was more years ago than I care to count--1989 in Boston. It was the first time I'd flown by myself, the first time I'd been to Boston, and when I arrived, I felt like an impostor. Who was I to mix and mingle with all these successful, well-known authors? Surely anyone who looked at me could tell that I didn't belong there!
But I soon discovered that plenty of the folks who were there that first day felt just like I did. Someone once said that an RWA conference is a chance to see 2000 introverts pretending to be extroverts! And that's about the size of it for most of us. Writers are used to being alone with our computers. We're used to settling down to work in front in our sweat pants and sneakers. No wonder it terrified me that first time.
Now I'm older (a lot) and wiser (a little) and I know that most people feel insecure in situations of this kind. I also have friends I've met through RWA who are as close as sisters, and our only chance to be together is at the annual conference. It's become a kind of "class reunion" for us, and we greet one another with shrieks and hugs when we spot each other in the hotel lobby.
So yes, I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'll tire myself out, probably, and eat food that is much too rich for my usual diet. And my writer friends and I will talk and talk and talk, making up for a year's worth of short emails and shorter texts.
If you're in or near New York City, I hope you'll consider stopping by the Marriott Marquis for the huge book-signing held as one of the kick-off events of the conference. Non-attendees are very welcome to come in, browse through rows and rows of books and authors, buy books and have them signed by the author, and contribute to a worthy cause that affects all of us--Literacy in America. Every cent raised will go to literacy projects, and I can't think of a better cause for writers to support.
I hope to see you there: Broadway Ballroom, 6th Floor, Marriott Marquis. The book-signing runs from 5:30 to 7:30, but the line will begin to form as early as 1:00 for people who are eager to meet their favorite authors. But don't worry about standing in line--the Marriott will be prepared with chairs!