WRITERS’ CONFERENCES REDUX

I wondered why no one responded to the post I wrote on June 24th. I previewed it. I hit “Publish” but guess what? it was still sitting here when I checked in just now. So I published it just now, and will now write about the conference after the fact.

Here’s what I learned: I don’t like to go to conferences. I knew that, but I must have forgotten. This was a lovely conference filled with about 250 women readers and writers in all genres. There were master classes, coffee chats, readings, usually all happening at once. Then there were lunches, karaoke, an award ceremony and a dance. There was a silent auction (I won a scarf knitted and donated by Val McDermid, yay me!), there were authors auctioned off for a dance (including me, more on that in a sec), and the dance itself. There was Dallas with 107 degree heat which I did not go out in. 

Can you guess the problem? I’m an introvert. There was too much stimulation. Too loud. Too many people. Too much going on. Not enough me time. (No me time.) Not enough sleep. I was sharing a room, and there were sleep issues all round. Nice roomie, but we each needed our own rooms really. (Money was the bigger issue.) I stayed about 80 minutes at karaoke. I stayed for once dance at the Dance. Had to. I was auctioned off. I volunteered for this because initially I thought “what fun! A way to give back to the organization AND to ensure that I get at least one dance.” See, I love to dance and fear rejection. I thought this was a perfect solution. I was what is known as a “con virgin.” I’d never been to one of these conferences. So I had no idea of the popularity of this author auction. Women save up their money all year for the chance to buy a dance with their favorite authors. And some authors are clearly not introverts. They do things or wear things or say things that will drive up the price. It was fun to watch, and the auction raised more than $8,000. 

Still, by Saturday night when the dance rolled around, I was so tired of being among human beings, I wanted to curl up and hide. But I put on my dancing shoes, got gussied up, went downstairs and danced my one dance. Then I sashayed out to the elevator and went straight to my room. The next time I was seen in public was checkout time in the hotel lobby.

This conference will be held in Portland next year. Where I live. It is a terrific conference, and I will be oh so happy to be able to go home to my own bed at night. And to watch the auction without participating in it. 

I did enjoy being on a panel with other authors though. Our panel was called “So I Had This Idea.” It was for us to talk about how we got the idea for our book (or one of our books) and how we then brought it to fruition. That was fun, the interaction with the audience was fun, and meeting the other authors was fun.

I also enjoyed the few times that I sat around with a few other authors to just chat. That I wish I could do weekly. Wouldn’t it be great not to have to plan or travel to be able to have a short socialization period? It seemed like what it would be like to have a local pub where you would hang out with your pals for an hour in the afternoon. Or maybe a coffee house. I don’t drink, so I never go to pubs. And I never run into anyone I know at my coffee house. Those few chats I had made me wish for more of that kind of thing. 

As for flying, I hope I don’t need to do any of that any time soon again either. I used to travel a lot. There was a time when I racked up 250,000 frequent flier miles every year, and not from spending money, but from flying. It was pre 9/11. Now that we have TSA, shoe removal, scanners, and the airlines are charging for checking even one bag, the lines to get through security are outrageously long. And because it is summer, every seat is booked on every flight. Both flights I was on yesterday also had dogs under the seats, and one of them was next to me, crying the entire time in the waiting area, and all the time until the plane was actually in the air. I wanted badly to join in.

No food was served on three of the four flights I was on. No vegetarian meal selections were offered at the hotel where I stayed except at breakfast. (I missed several meals and didn’t lose a single pound, thanks for asking.)

I know it sounds like I’m complaining. I’m stating facts. I’m trying to remember to state all the good things about having made this trip. Here are some more: I met my employers from Regal Crest Enterprises. I am truly glad I got to do that. I visited with two of my friends from Austin who drove to Dallas to see me and even stayed overnight so we could visit twice. I hadn’t seen them in so many years, we weren’t sure how long it had been. I was introduced to the writings of women whose work I wasn’t familiar with. I went to lots of the readings for that purpose. One whose work I’ve now already bought and read I want to recommend: J. M. Redmann. She writes the Mickey Knight series, a hard-boiled lesbian mystery series that has won lots of awards. If you like Sue Grafton, V. I. Warshawski, or Sara Paretsky, you’ll like J. M. Redmann. 

And by the way, I forgot to take along my newly printed business cards. Drat. 

Thank you for reading this long post. Please feel free to add your own thoughts, ideas, harangues, memories, etc.

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4 thoughts on “WRITERS’ CONFERENCES REDUX

  1. A mixed bag, those conferences. I think the last one I went to was in the 1980s. It’s just no fun, as you point out, for one of us introverts to be close to that many people for so many hours at a time. But I did have to laugh here and there at your description of how you fared. It was definitely not the place for you, not the dance for you, but luckily some of the connections, Austin friends, and writers just perfect for you. Onward!

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