And guess what—I'm not going!
It's just minutes into registration opening and the pre-conference tweets are already flying around like crazy, many of them seeming to be technical ones ("try using Internet Explorer" seems to be the winning prescription), but many others of pure excitement. And make no mistake, I'm totally jealous.
2010 was my Year of Infinite Schmooze. By the time registration for last year's National conference was open, my evil conjoined erotica-writing twin had two contracts and was tempted to shell out in order to take her place as a newly legitimized published author…but oh, the price tag! Then in March I got word that The Reluctant Nude had finaled in the Golden Heart—the manfriend said no ifs, ands or buts, I was going. And so was he—he's so not an Orlando man, but he wouldn't have missed a chance to sit beside me while I awaited the GH verdict. Then, by the time the conference had actually arrived, I'd sold The Reluctant Nude to Samhain (via good old-fashioned editor querying) and had just revised and sold the book that would become my first Blaze, Caught on Camera. I had editors to meet and parties to attend! I had outfits to buy! I was somebody and goddammit, I was going to dress up!
And when all was said and done, I had a blast at RWA National 2010, and I don't regret a penny or a minute I invested in those four chaotic days. I had tons of firsts—my first major contest jitters, my first book signing, my first Harlequin party, my first face-to-face meetings with my editors. A truly wonderful whirlwind I wouldn't have traded for…well, not for an awful lot of money, anyhow.
But this year, my focus has shifted.
First off, it's just too much cash to pony up…and this coming from someone who could take the cheapie death-wish Chinatown bus to and from. I don't blame RWA for the steep hotel and registration costs, either—it's just the nature of Manhattan. But I'm not up for any awards, and I have three publishers now; I hope to maybe even have an agent by the summer, fingers crossed painfully tight, so my reasons for going to NYC to attend would largely be social. For that price, it's just not motivation enough. I'm not going to the Romantic Times Convention, either, for the same reasons. Don't get me wrong, if money wasn't an object, I'd be at both, with bells on! But I think that as the excitement-dust of 2010 clears, my focus in 2011 needs to be on writing as a day-to-day job.
The thing I most need to work on this year is finding my flow with my new publishers and their expectations. I also have solid income goals I'm determined to make, so that this dream job can hopefully become and stay a fiscally justifiable "real" job. So instead of breaking the bank on the big-time national conferences, I'm planning instead to attend two or three smaller, regional ones, with fittingly smaller fees and attendance, perfect for the barside chatting I'll be most missing when the mid-conference tweets start popping up in a few months. But to everyone able and planning to go to National this year, have an illicit drink or two for me!