Sunday, July 17, 2011

RNA Conference 2011 - Ruth Long Talks About Refilling The Cup

Alison Maynard, Talli Roland, Ruth Long
Yesterday I confessed to my Weight Watcher’s leader that this week wouldn’t be a very good one.
I hung my head and said “I was away at a writers’ conference in Wales” and she smiled, added the extra pounds to my record and asked “Are you a writer?”
A question which always makes me beam with joy.
“Yes. I was at the Romantic Novelists' Association Annual Conference.”
“Good,” she said. “You were refilling the cup.”
The long weekend away (starting with a fairly panicky discovery that the bus stop for the airport coach was no longer the bus stop for the airport coach, running up the road to suspected location of new bus stop, to have the bus driver say calmly “I would have stopped for you”, kindly without adding “mad panicking lady”... ahem...) was a chance to get away without being the person with the full time job who writes in the evening, and away from being wife and mother (much as I adore my family). It was time to be me without being responsible for anyone else at all. For many of us, I think, to have a few days where you can just be a writer, and spend that time in the company of other writers is beyond value.

On Friday morning, following the goodie-bag stuffing circuit, we visited the Roman Legion museum and if there are a large number of Roman Britain set novels next year, it’s not entirely my fault for instigating the trip – the ladies from Mira mentioned Romans too. We had a lovely lunch in the Priory during which the waiters told us (thanks to Kate Johnson’s fantastic t-shirt) that they were delighted to see what a Romantic Novelists looks like. We pointed out there were seven of us. They ran away. It rained and rained but we didn’t care.
There were so many lightbulb moments for me over the weekend I couldn’t hope to account for them all here.

The description workshop, the regency prints, the pitch/angle talk... But above all one of the great things about this conference is the social aspect. No, not just the wine. (Although there was wine). There was also the opportunity to support friends going into pitches, to chat about the voices-in-head phenomenon without people’s eyes glazing over while they reach for the phone to dial 999, and the opportunity to generally hang out and have fun.

There was as mentioned above more than one opportunity to drink wine, laugh a lot, and keep my sci-fi spurs by knowing about the Orgasmatron in Barbarella in the quiz. And to enjoy the bewildered and slightly terrified expression of every one of the male cyclists also staying at Caerleon campus as they walked into the bar and saw us all there. Bless them, they even tried turning up the volume on the TVs so they could hear. Aww...
Lisa Bodenham and Kate Johnson

A few people have mentioned the bar being closed before the gala dinner, but no one has touched on the sheer Night-of-the-Living-Dead-ness of it all when the security staff were back there, trying to turn on the TVs rather than open the bar and we all surged forwards en mass. One of my flatmates (she knows who she is) said “These heels are pretty sharp. I reckon I could batter my way through the metal shutters if necessary”
Ah, romance novelists. The newspapers really have no idea. J
So after a few “Oh my God, it’s 4am”‘s in the naughty kitchen, a hangover to rival any I’ve had before, and a four hour wait at an airport, what do I take away from the Conference this year?
The sure and certain knowledge that my cup of inspiration, friendship, celebration and the sheer joy of spending time with other writers is not only refilled, it’s positively brimming over.

R.F. Long always had a thing for fantasy, romance and ancient mysteries. The combination was bound to cause trouble. In university she studied English Literature, History of Religions and Celtic Civilisation, which just compounded the problem. She writes fantasy (The Scroll ThiefSongs of the Wolf) and paranormal romance (Soul Fire) or whatever else the voices tell her to.
Her dark contemporary YA fantasy The Treachery of Beautiful Things will be available from Dial Books for Young Readers in August 2012.
Her website is and she can be found on Twitter as @RFLong.
She works in a library of rare and unusual books. But they don’t talk to her that often. Or she’s learning to ignore them.


Glynis Peters said...

I loved reading how you filled your cup with happiness and freedom - oh and of course- wine.

PS: Always a joy to see my Alpha♥Beta♥Reader♥Mentor♥ ,Talli, enjoying herself.

One day I hope to fly over and join in a conference- err, I mean visit my family.

Talli Roland said...

Yay Glynis! :)

Kate Johnson said...

I would like to point out that I didn't batter down any shutters. Not once.

I just considered it.