For me, lucky number 13 doesn’t refer to a racehorse, a hand in cards, or a Powerball number. Rather, it will forever be the year I attended my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference, and the year my life changed.
In preparing for the conference as a First Timer, I read various blogs which included such sage advice as “wear comfortable shoes,” “introduce yourself to five new people every day,” and “prepare to be overwhelmed.” All excellent advice, to be sure, except the last. Strangely enough, I wasn’t overwhelmed, but energized. Excited. Determined. And my excitement and determination grew each day of the conference.
Everyone I met at RWA inspired me. I’m convinced Cathy Maxwell, this year’s keynote speaker, somehow channeled my brain when she was writing her speech. She talked about her first conference. She knew only one other girl. I knew just a few more than that. She left three small children at home in pursuit of her dream. I left two. When one of them got hurt and, crying, begged her to come home, she said she could not. Cathy told her daughter that being at the conference was something she had to do. I left at home a child with a nasty ear infection. Just as Cathy felt to the depth of her being that she could not leave, so did I. For the first time, I had found my calling and nothing, save a grave emergency, could pull me away.
I attended a variety of workshops, most of them focused on craft. I’ve been studying romance writing and fiction for the last ten months through the online Romance Writing program at McDaniel College in Maryland. A lot of what I’ve learned the last ten months was validated this past weekend. Some of the things I learned were new and I gladly added them to my writer’s toolkit.
The biggest take-away I got from the conference was a tremendous sense of confidence. It’s probably over-inflated, but I’ve never felt so sure that I will be successful, as long as I’m willing to put forth the work and effort; to continue learning and practicing my craft; to establish and cultivate a voice that is my own; and to bring wonderful stories to the page.
I’m anxious to get home and get writing. I can’t wait to finish my first draft, stand back, take a deep breath, and start revising.