Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE FIRST TIME (at a conference...)

Current Project: Nine-book series and a novella
Status: Making progress

It's been awhile since I struggled to find a blog topic--but I struggled today! I finally ended up looking through my old blogs for ideas. With RWA National Conference only a couple months away, the subject of conferences struck me as appropriate. So I rewrote a piece about my first conference...

I invite you to put on your newbie writer hat and shoes and step into the time machine. We're going to flashback to circa 1992 in Eugene, Oregon. Their now-disbanded Romance Writers of America chapter was about 100 members strong and hosting a three-day conference leaning toward the paranormal.

Butterflies of excitement and trepidation fluttered in my introvert heart. As I neared the registration area, someone smiled and directed me to the right table.

Soon I was wearing a name tag, clutching a workshop schedule and had a bag of goodies slung over my shoulder. I had officially declared my status as a writer!

The days of the conference passed in a blur of wonder, crammed with workshops, fantasy creatures and telling my future by numerology. However, the biggest thrill was meeting other writers who had their stories published! They shared their experiences, their wisdom, their horror stories of what to avoid. I felt like I had known these sisters (and a few brothers) for years, bound by the bond of writing.

When the conference ended, I didn't want to leave this magical place, but I yearned to get home to write! Finally, I waved goodbye to one more new friend and walked out the doors--a different person than I was three days earlier. I had begun an exciting new journey.

Do you remember your first experience at a writers' conference? Or are you still looking forward to that milestone? Please share a story or two!


Paty Jager said...

Fun post, Genene.

My first conference with RWA was at Emerald City. I'd been a National member for about three months and hadn't delved into my RWR magazines more than the contests and conferences to realize there were chapters.
I was extremely shy but willing to take the plunge into the conference to learn how to write better and what I needed to know for the business of romance writing.

I, too, was met by friendly people, but I kind of hung back and when people asked me what chapter I thought they meant what chapter was I on in my book. It wasn't until a wonderful lady named Janet(I can not remember her last name) from Spokane took me under her wing and introduced me to people, read the first chapter of my story and pretty much told me more about RWA.

I left that conference knowing I'd found where I needed to belong and then started attending the workshops by Mid-Willamette Valley and ended up joining this chapter.

Now I've come full circle and I'm teaching a workshop at Emerald City this year.

Alice Sharpe said...

Genene -- I attended two of those Memorial weekend conferences. They were wonderful. I was already published, but they were the first workshops I attended and the first conference setting I experienced. I don't think there has ever been anything like them for me. I joined the group the year they stopped doing the conferences.

And now I am a little burned out on conferences. Don't get me wrong, I know I don't know everything I need to know, I've just grown tired of the delivery system. So, I'm sitting them out for awhile.

I wonder if we ever met at the Eugene conference. I attended with my poetry friend, but there were so many nice people there.... thanks for the memories.

Genene Valleau said...

Paty, how cool that you've come full circle with the Emerald City conference! Though it sounds like a wonderful conference and is fairly close to us, I've not attended that conference. Weird, I know.

I'm so glad you found our chapter and joined! Our journeys since we started writing are interesting, aren't they?

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Alice! We might have met at the conference in Eugene. I was so in awe of everything and everyone that I only remember bits and pieces of specific detail. And, as you said, wonderful memories of the conference as a whole.

I still remember how surprised I was when the chapter folded. So many members and then it was gone.

I enjoy conferences but haven't attended many the last few years either because of the expense and because it's a challenge to find someone willing to take care of my herd of doggies and spoil them like I do. :)

Kendra said...

My first conference was at Emerald City, too. I loved it. I think it was about a year after I started writing. I was petrified at the group pitch sessions and remember forcing myself to talk to people I didn't know in workshops.

I loved the whole excited feeling of being around other people who loved writing and brushing shoulders with a few big names. I also got to know several of my fellow members of RCRW much better. I haven't attended the last two years and I've missed it. I'm committed to going back next fall.

Genene Valleau said...

Kendra, I can't imagine doing a group pitching session at my first conference. No wonder you were petrified!

Obviously you survived and thrived! Isn't it interesting to look back at all we've experienced and accomplished?

Anonymous said...

Mine was at Emerald City, too! I rode the train up with Danita. I didn't know her, or anyone else in the chapter yet, but I went anyway. Paty was there, too. We all three hung out and got to be good friends and we rode in this really fast elevator that made me sick to my stomach each time but was like a ride at the amusement park! LOL

I got to meet Julia Quinn, which was the MAIN reason I went. I wanted to learn write books like her. Every class was awesome and I learned so much. I loved every minute of it. I got to eat breakfast with a gal who's a big agent now and a gal who's a big editor now, but I didn't know ANYTHING about them or who they were. It was great fun!

Loved reading about all of your experiences, too, girls. :)

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Becky!

Emerald City seems to be the must-go-to conference for this area! Glad the elevator didn't stop you from having a great time!