To tell you the truth, I was dreading the RNA Conference. I know the reasons for this say a lot more about me than about it, but here goes anyway.
1. Everyone would know everyone else. There would be loads of hugging, loads of kissing, laughing, gossiping, and I was going to be shifting around on the edge, trying to get a look in, feeling like a lemon.
2. There would talk about shoes. I’m not very good with shoes. I mostly wear Birkenstocks.
3. There would be a lot of successful writers there. I like successful writers as a rule, but am also fed up with being the bridesmaid, never the blushing bride.
4. I don’t really write Romantic Fiction. I don’t even read it very often. I’ve confessed this before and have been told that’s no problem, so long as human relationships are central. I’m not sure I really believed this. I thought they would favour their own.
5. It was a whole weekend, and the Friday too.
6. I was dreading it in a general, globilized, all-my-phobias-rising-up-to-meet-me-all-my-inhibitions-squashing-me-down kind of way.
This is what happened:
1. I met several people whom I can genuinely now call friends; many others, whom I think will become friends by the next conference. There is an extraordinary lack of cliquishness to this group, an easy friendliness unique in my conference going experience.
2. No one showed the slightest bit of interest in my shoes, thank goodness.
3. There were a lot of successful writers, some of them exceedingly so, but another extraordinary thing. As a professional group, they demonstrate a singular generosity, lack of ego, refusal to judge; only support, encouragement, sharing of ideas and advice, and an acknowledgement that it’s a hard nut to crack, but persistence pays.
4. The only thing the delegates have in common is that they are writers, are serious about the job and are female (it just seems to work out that way). Commercial, literary, chicklit, straight romance, comedy, family drama, historical, crime, historical crime comedy, bookgroup books, Mills & Boon, thriller, mystery, historical mystery, fantasy, fantasy comedy, young adult, historical fantasy young adult, you get the picture. The first class workshops were applicable to all.
5. It could have done with being spread over six days. That way we wouldn’t have had to chose one of excellent workshops each session, but could have gone to them all.
6. Phobias shlobias.