Tuesday, July 5

Conferences Make Me Queasy

This week on WordWranglers, we're talking about Conferences. I honestly don't have much to input on this one. RWA had it's national conference in NYC this last week, and read Christi's post for deets all about that.

As any of you know who follow this blog, and any newcomers, I live in the middle of nowhere. No RWA chapter nearby, no writers groups to belong to and a couple of crit groups I don't want to belong to.

The closest conferences are Denver and Crested Butte, both over two hours away--one direction. It's just not feasible for me to jump in the car or a plane and run to one of them.

Too much money.

Too much time.

Christi said in her post a mojita cost $18 at this last conference. We had steak, French fries and a green salad for the three of us for that two nights ago.

The one conference I did attend was in Denver, and I signed up to pitch to Leslie Wainger and Kristen Nelson. By the time my turn came around, I was nearly incoherent with a panic attack. A full-blown, can't breathe, can't speak attack. My friends got me under control enough that I could talk to Ms. Wainger, and I did get a request for a full. I think out of pity.

However, it was horrible. I'm terribly shy at heart, and talking to strangers was painful. I don't make small talk very well. I always say something stupid. Then blush.

I don't really want to go to a conference, honestly. I would like to see Kristi and Sara and other friends, but to pitch, to talk to strangers, not my idea of a good time.

I don't believe it hurts my career to miss these events.

Do you?

Please say no!!!


  1. Um, I'm pretty sure you just invaded my mind and pulled out my thoughts. I like to go to conferences, but I like to sit in the back where no one can see or talk to me. People think I'm rude, but it's more about not being able to come up with coherent conversation.

  2. First off, I HATE--AND I DO MEAN HATE--to fly. That is one of the main reasons why I don't go to conferences. Second, and this is up there with #1 is I simply don't have the funds. Third, although I'm not overly shy and I can fake most situations, talking to an agent or editor would give me heart failure--but only if I were pitching to them about my MS. If I was just having a pleasant conversation about life and writing, then I would be fine.
    Anyway, these are my reasons for not attending.

  3. I attended the Central Coast Writers Conference last year and dug deep - I'm not a social butterfly in the farthest stretch of imagination. Parking my car in the lot and opening the damn door was a challenge for me.

    I forced myself to sit in the first seat I could find in the front row. And I was glad I did. It gave me an opportunity to make chit chat with Nathan Bransford whom I would never have had the ovaries to approach.

    Now that I've dipped my toes in a smaller conference, I think I'm ready to try something larger. But I'd sure like a buddy to go with.

  4. Sheri, I would need a buddy to go with too--and I don't know any writers close to me. And if I didn't have to fly, that would be great. And if I had the money.....
    Oh, and awesomeness on you meeting N.B. That's soooo cool, hehehe!

  5. D'Ann, I couldn't agree with you more. The money and crowds would keep me away. In a large group of strangers, I would just want to sit in a corner and be ignored. Hate, hate any attention on me in those situations. I don't even think it's really shyness, but more a case of too much simulation -- too much going on, with too many people walking around. Nothing closes me down faster. That's the defintion of a classic introvert in my book!

  6. I've enjoyed every conference I've attended--four or five?--but I almost always had at least one friend. Going it alone terrifies me, plus the money aspect gets uglier all the time.

    Do I think they're good? Yep. Important? Yep. Gotta do? No, I don't think so.

  7. D'Ann my fear of crowds comes from growing up in a VERY small town in the middle of nowhere NV. I may live in the city now, but I don't like it. My kids know not to ask to go places like the mall at christmas time because it isn't happening. Even last night for fireworks, we parked in a large empty parking lot above town and watched with maybe, 20 others.

    I would not be able to go to those conferences either, people and the cost just make it impossible. I have several writers who did go as friends on Facebook and everyone has made a note about the amount of people and how hard it is to deal. So I think we are amoung many writers who prefer to sit at the computer, write and chat online.

  8. D'Ann - I'm in the same boat - very shy - very quiet - so we can not go to conferences together.

  9. I've seen writers make it without it :)

    Although I love to learn and it would be awesome to meet all the people I have gotten to know online. (Esp All my cps:) Maybe one day....

  10. Ok, Brenda. You and me! Let's get ourselves to the conference in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle). I'll even pay for the room. Our intinerary? To soak it all up!! And then we'll hit the workshops!! LOL!

  11. Um, D'Ann? Are you sure you weren't describing me? Your description sounded just like me. But, at least you went, and you pitched. BTW Happy birthday. Mine is on the 19th. We're both cancers. Maybe that's why we sound alike.

  12. Being out in the public has helped me overcome my shyness. I still get uneasy at crowded events, but now that I've gone to the Willamette Writer's Conference four or five years in a row, I have a few conference buddies that I look for. And plus, writers are definitely the nicest people!

  13. I didn't go either. I've been to a few conferences and didn't find it mattered much in regard to networking. People go to have fun mostly. If you enjoy it, you should go, but it won't matter much in regard to your career.

  14. Well, am I amazed at the # of people who have the same feelings as I do! WOW.

    Thanks for coming by, everyone. I appreciate you so much!

  15. I went to this year's RWA conference. Do I like pitching? Talking to strangers? Being "on" at all times? NO. But I practice, practice, practice...the smiles, the small elevator chit chat, and the pitch. Just remember, it's the "story" that agents want to hear. They don't grad you on how well you deliver it. I do think though, that you can make great connections at conferences. It helps if a friend can go with you or you can meet up with on-line writer friends.

  16. I think the key is to have a friend with you - at least the first couple of times. My first time at RWA National I took my MIL along. She's not a writer, she went just to meet some of her favorite authors. But knowing she was there with me made a difference - even though she didn't attend workshops or pitch sessions.

    PS: I'd love to be your conference buddy some year...maybe when it comes back to the mid-west!! :)

  17. There's no reason you can't go to a conference and not pitch. I'm shy two, but I've attended National alone when I've had to and made sure I had friends to meet up with. The one thing about romance writers is they are a friendly group. Money is getting to be an issue which is the reason I haven't attended in a few years. I hate to fly and with limited vacation time from the day job I confine myself to regional conferences. Sometimes it helps to start off at the smaller regional conferences.

  18. You've got to push yourself outside your comfort zone. If you sell your book, you'll have to do crowd type things with book signings. A newspaper interview is scarier than a pitch! Keep challenging yourself.

  19. You shy and quiet? I never would of guessed. I thought I held the record on that one. I have never pitched (too scared). I usually wander around looking like I'm lost or sit somewhere with my nose in a book. Even socializing is hard for me. But I also believe the time comes when we have to step out of our comfort zone and do something out of the ordinary.

    I think conferences are of paramount importance for a beginning writer. Once you've got some writing/publishing under your belt they are not as important. In, fact, for the most part you can learn the same stuff by reading Writer's Digest, The Writer, Writer's Journal, etc.

    Reading the comments, are all writers shy and quiet? Guess that's why we write rather than socialize.

  20. Thanks, everyone, again, for coming by! I appreciate you!

  21. I missed this last week... I would love to go to a conference, because I like meeting people, not that I'm a social butterfly--I'll leave that for my 11 yo daughter--but I enjoy talking to like-minded people.

    But the cost is a major--MAJOR--drawback. I only live in Central Pennsylvania only two to three hours (by train) from New York. But there was no way I could afford it.

    There is a conference in New Jersey (NJ Romance Writer's Put Your Heart in a Book). I really, really want to go... and I'm ready to rob Peter to go and forget to pay Paul altogether.

    And D'Ann... I'd love to meet up with you and Kristi too!