I’m still trying to process the past week of my life. To say that it was revolutionary, a mountaintop experience, a turning point, is so clichéd, but nothing else really applies. RWA Nationals 2011 was the greatest event of my professional life, and I’m including both my day career as a lawyer and my writing life. The only things that surpass it are a few deeply personal experiences, like marrying the Lord of the Far Junior College and having my babies.
What was it? Was it the incredible workshops, where the best and brightest of the field gave me actual, “here’s how you do it” advice? Maybe the booksignings and photo-ops with people whose names have graced my keeper shelf for years? Or the chance to pitch to my dream editor, and to hear her say, “Send me the full”?
Oh, Gosh yes, RWA11 was all of those, and more. One of the few things I remember from the bleak hours I spent in FSU science classes those many years ago is a professor saying “the sum is greater than the parts thereof.” Still don’t know what that had to do with the subject of the class (physics, biology, chemistry, who knows?) But it describes the energy generated at the Marriott Marquis over the past week.
Still, there is one aspect of Nationals that stands out to me more than any other, and I believe it is what made everything else at the conference come together in such an overwhelming way. The camaraderie amongst RWA members is something wondrous to behold. There were people I had never met before who I now think of as close friends. There were people who are at the very top of this industry who were sitting in the bar and the restaurants at all hours, giving advice and a sympathetic ear to the rank newbies like myself. There were professionals sharing their knowledge just because they want to help others achieve their dreams. And that kind of collegiality is a rare and wonderful thing.
So, amongst the many memories of RWA, I will always cherish are these:
Two Yankees (from NY and NJ) who took me under their wings, threw me in a taxicab, and ate the most expensive soup ever with me at the Plaza, all because I needed to research a scene in my WIP. Jenn and Evangelina, I love you two, and I’ll never forget our O.I.A.B. and eating pizza and calamari under the stained glass at John’s with you!!!
Sitting next to a smiling woman at breakfast, and suddenly realizing that she wrote the fabulous book I’d been reading on the plane on the way up. I told her I was pitching that day, and she not only coached me on my pitch, but talked about an inspiration for another book. So when the editor asked “what ideas do you have for future books?” I was able to throw that one out there, and she asked for a paragraph on it along with the full for the one I pitched! Thank you, Kieran, for being so encouraging and helpful – maybe one day I’ll get to pay it forward!
Gushing like a crazy mad fangirl when I met one of my long-time favorite authors, and she not only didn’t look at me like I was a stalker, she had her assistant take our picture and gave me a “Mojo hug” for good luck on my pitch. Thank you, Jacquie – your Mojo is powerful!
Hearing that a friend had gotten an incredible 5 – yes, FIVE – requests from pitches! I know there where times when she was down and wondered why she kept on, but the answer is right there: because her stories are fabulous! Jillian, it is just a matter of time!
And of course, hanging in the hotel room, looking out at the lights of the big city and dreaming of the day we make it there, cause we can make it anywhere! Micki, it was the best – we have to do it again!!!
That’s enough, but that’s far from all. There are so many other people I want to mention: Vanessa, Vickie, Carolyn, Heather, Stephanie, Cyndi, Joye, Jamie – OMG, I know I’m leaving someone out, but I can’t list everyone who made the week one I will always treasure.
The only question is, how can I convince Hubs that I really have to go to Anaheim next year . . . .?