Expanding the Zone. The Comfort Zone.

I suck at networking. Introducing myself to random people and trying to get them to talk to me makes me uncomfortable.

I don’t do well in large crowds of people. I tend to get really cranky.

With these two things in mind, you’d wonder why I’m heading to RWA next week. But I am.

This time next week, I’ll be at RWA 2013, the national conference for Romance Writers of America. It’s three days of workshops, book signings, speeches, award ceremonies, and drinking. Lots of drinking, if previous attendees are to be believed.

I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to afford to go. RWA is expensive; my total costs, just for hotel, registration, and airfare, are almost $2000. Some people cut this down by sharing hotel rooms. I didn’t. One way for me to combat the crowds is to have a nice big room all to myself. It’s my escape pod. But luck was with me, and I managed to find the money for this first time.

When I initially signed up, my intent was to focus on the workshops. This was a learning opportunity for me. I wasn’t going to pitch (I’m still not. I didn’t sign up.) I didn’t care about meeting agents and editors, and if I met some fellow writers I followed on Twitter, cool, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to do it. I knew there would be at least one other person from my local RWA chapter going, and that was a relief, knowing I’d have someone to eat dinner with before I retreated to my room for the night.

Has any of this changed? Eh, sort of.

I’m looking forward to getting to hang out with a few more of my chapter mates, some of whom I’ve never met. Nora Frickin’ Roberts will be there, as usual, and I’m really looking forward to meeting her. I just hope I don’t trip over my tongue in the process. Same with Delphine Dryden and Jennifer Estep (my apologies in advance, ladies, if I just start babbling nonsense. Your books are just so cool.) When they posted the list of editors taking pitches, I saw a few names of people I’d like to meet, and yes, I’m hoping to introduce myself, provided I can think of a way to do it without looking stupid.

The one thing I’m not worried about? Clothes. It’s business casual. I live in business casual. The only thing I’m worried about as far as clothing is concerned is whether I can fit all of my shoes in my rollaboard.

RWA is pushing me out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing. My hope is by the end of the conference is not only will I have learned a ton, I’ll have made a few new connections that might make this whole writing gig easier. And that I’ll have met Nora Roberts.

Live in the Atlanta area? The “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing features over 400 authors and is open to the public. The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Atrium Ballroom of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Proceeds benefit various literacy organizations. You can see a full list of participating authors here.


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