Kat: The Utility of Attending RWA National 2015

rwa, national conference, writer's conference, eight ladies writing, justine covington

Conference Time.

Since returning home from the writer’s retreat at Justine’s place, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing life. My writing goals, the current state of my WIP, the “writing” activities I take on that have nothing to do with finishing my WIP, and even my continued participation in 8Ladies. And then I get an email from RWA. Yes, it’s that time of year again – time to renew my membership as well as think about the big mama of romance writer conferences: RWA National Conference.

Justine’s Tuesday post is timely. It started me thinking: would I attend? Should I? If I do, what are my goals? To get published? That won’t happen unless I finish my MS. To see the sights of NY for the first time? I generally use some of my time at conferences to do some sight-seeing (I’m taking vacation time from my day job after all), but I doubt I’d traverse NY on my own, and experience tells me that most of the other 8Ladies won’t have the time to sight-see. The conference is a business event after all.

There’s also the issue of money. A quick and dirty tally puts the trip at a whopping $2000 +. That’s a huge investment to make without definite goals. For those ladies with a finished manuscript, attending this year makes perfect sense. New York is a hotbed of  publishing insiders and it’s a good bet most will be in attendance.  Given my work schedule which is sucking up my time and creative energy right now, I can’t count on having anything ready to go.  Still, the thought of not going doesn’t feel right either. To pinpoint what to do, I’ve run the pros and cons:

PROS:

  • Renewing and strengthening existing relationships.
    •  I’m primarily talking the 8Ladies here. Most if not all of us will be in the NY this summer. I’d hate to miss out on seeing everyone again.
  • Making new connections and contacts.
    • Superficially this sounds great, but without a finished manuscript hobnobbing with industry insiders is premature and an exercise in self-delusion.
  • A motivational spur to finish my manuscript.
    • Maybe, but not unless I make some changes in my writing life (finding more time / energy to write).
  • Workshops and Keynote addresses.
    • I’ve yet to go to one Publisher’s spotlight. This year would be a great time to delve into the business side.
  • Seeing New York for the first time if only from the air.

CONS:

  • Workshops.
    • Since McD I’ve had little interest in “craft” workshops, which leaves “writer life” type breakouts. I don’t know, but workshops feel like a been there, done that proposition.
  • No Completed MS.
    • Speaks for itself.
  • Money.
    • I have to be able to justify the $$’s. Without a finished manuscript in hand, I’m having problems doing that.

I’m working on a brand new synopsis for Cheyenne that integrates the new ideas I brought home from Arizona. My plan is to have that finished by early next week and start working backwards (Draft the 3rd act and resolution before I do anything else). Once that’s done,  I’ll have some idea whether I’ll be able to finish Cheyenne or not which weighs heavily in my conference decision.

In your view what’s the number one reason for attending RWA National this year?

9 thoughts on “Kat: The Utility of Attending RWA National 2015

  1. I go to RWA mostly because it’s fun. I like the people I meet. I like the buzz and the energy. I like to feel that I’m doing something to nurture and validate my creative side. For a long time now, vacation time rather than money has been in short supply, so the half-week time frame works for me.

    All your pros and cons are absolutely correct. I do think it’s a good idea to finish a manuscript and pitch it as long as you’re there. That said, though—I think you’re smart to be realistic about what quantifiable value you’ll get from it. It’s a question of balancing needs and wants, I guess.

    • Right. Generally speaking the location weighs into my decision. I can a bigger bang for my vacation buck if the location appeals for one reason or another. New York doesn’t. I’m not a big fan of crowds and hated Vegas, and Time Square hits me as Vegas-y. Still, there are some good art museums in NY, and going to The Village holds some appeal, too.

      Finishing Cheyenne is the number one priority, though. I think finishing the new synopsis is key. If I can do that, I’ll have a strong map to get to the finish line in time for NY.

  2. I get jazzed up from the energy. It’s also a chance for me to meet in person some of the folks I talk to online (particularly in the Beau Monde chapter, which is virtual). There are usually workshops (craft or otherwise) that will in some way help me finish my manuscript or get me thinking about the next one, or the business side of things, which I’m becoming more conscious of. I love hearing the talks from the keynote speakers and I also enjoy the recognition that comes on award night (although I’ve never gotten that, but it’s a good motivation that I, too, can win an award).

    As far as NY goes, my sister used to live there and I visited quite a bit. I love it. My family will also be in North Carolina at the beach the week before, and my mom, who lives in MD, is watching the kids while I’m at RWA. She doesn’t see them but a few times a year. So aside from the cost (which you’re right — it’s steep), it’s a win-win for everyone in my family, as well.

  3. I have a lot of the same thoughts about conferences. I haven’t joined RWA, and I’m not sure it’s the right fit for me. I won’t know for sure until I’ve finished the damn book. OK, let’s face it, I still won’t know for sure unless I actually join, and meet someone who helps me get my book published. THEN I’ll know, LOL.

    Even things like WorldCon, which is more my genre, are things that I go to for fun. I volunteer, I did some translating, and I made some friends and met up with some online people in person. But even with all that going for it, the cost and distance and time means I’ve only been twice.

    I wish I could be in New York next summer, but since I just went last year, I don’t think I can do it again. I get vacation days, but my work plans events during the vacations, and they don’t like it if I take too much time off.

    (-: Which should be excellent motivation for finishing a book, getting it sold and finally having a little money for conferences and a little safety net for taking my vacation days when I want to.

    • I’d love to meet you in person, Michaeline. Fingers crossed that something changes (in a positive way) so that you can go.

      Maybe you can entice your employer to send you on a conference there 🙂

    • Michaeline, just some food for thought: I have several friends who have attended WorldCon and similar conferences over the years who have also gone to RWA Nationals. According to them, the RWA Con is a totally different (and better!) animal – so much more camaraderie, support, and knowledge-sharing. So if at some point you find yourself faced with a choice between the two, I hope you’ll give RWA a try!

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