Like so many of the writers I know and follow and admire, I’m an introvert—but I wear extroversion wonderfully. I’ll don killer shoes, a bold shade of red lipstick, armor-up with jewelry and bright scarves, and happily meet everyone. Talk books, art, politics, puppies—you name it—and I have a great time. How many times a year do I get to spent an entire weekend with people who love what I love and do what I do? (Hint: one)
It’s fucking glory.
Writing conferences let me feel like I’m not alone. Share tales of edits and grumpy drafts and the universal horror that is synopses. It’s also intense—a tidal wave of people and ideas and learning and awkward conversation. And anticipation is a spiked lump in my throat.
This year I’m off to the Emerald City Writers’ Conference with my Writing Wife, aka the fabulous Laurel Greer, who just sold her first book to Harlequin! *cheers* *shakes pompoms* (Don’t judge those pompoms, you don’t know what they’re made of…) Laurel is my oldest writing friend, the very first person to hold my hand and tell me, "Yes, your draft is shitty, but you are not. And you'll fix it. Now here's a donut." (We fix a lot of things with donuts.) And we are CELEBRATING her debut as a contracted writer.
So with all that awesome, why do I feel like I’ve swallowed a tiny, ill-tempered dwarf wielding a battle mace?
Because conferences involve a lot of people. Professionals. Authors. People I admire. Who I want to like not only me, but my books. And in the face of that, doubts creep in: Will I say something really stupid? Will I keep my opinions in check—do I want to? What if I stutter through my pitch and forget my main character’s name?
Hah! Okay, there’s no forgetting Alecs. But the rest stands.
Anxiety is an insidious creature. It doesn’t fight in a straight line on a battlefield. It twists around, feints to the left and bites from the right. I’ve met some of my closest friends at writing conferences, had spectacular conversations with strangers—toasted, cheered, commiserated together. But those moments require a daunting degree of vulnerability. I had to put myself out there, strike up conversations, take my lumps, and try again.
The best things are so damn hard.
So I’m girding. Storing up my energy with lots of quiet. Basking in the wonder that is Gears of War 4 (husband is playing, an arrangement we both enjoy) and planning my outfits. I even bought a new lipstick. If psychosomatically that lovely shade of Risky Rose and a great pair of heels help me speak coherently about my book? Fan-fucking-tastic.
We all have our strategies for preparing ourselves for the things that scare us. Mine just happen to involve jewelry inspired by chainmail. If you’d like, share yours in the comments!
This weekend with my writerly clan is golden and I’m ready to have a blast.
*punches stomach-dwarf into submission*
*actually just eats chocolate*
Emerald City, here I come.