26 July 2010

Going to Disney World, Baby.

Okay, I'm a little bit excited.

It's THAT time of the year again...the Romance Writers of America Annual (RWA) Conference.

Squeeeee!!! For four jam-packed days, I will be immersed in all things writerly. From workshops on craft, the publishing industry, and how to tame that pesky muse, I will be glued to my chair. I will be surrounded by people who are, well, writerly too (agents, editors, multi-published authors, some of the biggest names in the industry). I am getting chills just thinking about it.

During the year, I sit all alone at my desk creating worlds, lives, loves. At RWA I get to sit with thousands of others just like me with the same hopes, dreams, goals, and desires. I don't know most of them, but I KNOW them. It's amazing.

It can also be a little daunting.

I'll never forget my first conference in 2003. It wasn't sponsored by RWA, because frankly, I hadn't heard of RWA at that time. I was a clueless, young, closet-writer. I wrote lots, but worried that I stunk big-time (which, thinking back now, I probably did.) I couldn't utter the words, "I am a writer." for fear that a burly guard might boot me out of the conference for writer-impersonation.

But I went. Why? Because I knew I stunk big-time, but this was my dream--to become published. I wanted someone to teach me. I wanted to know what I didn't know (which, looking back on it was a ton!). I wanted inspiration and hope and acceptance. I had never been in one place with so many writers before. This was awesome.

And rip the guts out of your body terrifying.

During orientation it was announced that we were supposed to bring the first five pages of our manuscript to workshops lead by multi-published authors, stand up and read those five pages aloud, so that the entire class could critique them while you, or really I, crawled under the nearest table and died a thousand deaths. (No the last part wasn't mandatory, but I could see it coming in all the gory details). I was beyond myself with terror. Remember, I couldn't even mouth the words, "I am a writer." and here we were going to prove it in front of God and all those strangers!

My heart in my throat, I turned to the person sitting next to me and said something like, "Aaagggk!"

It was the last intelligible sound I made for three days. I kid you not. I developed psychosomatic laryngitis. I could not speak above a whisper for almost the entire conference!

On the third day, I wandered into a workshop where the multi-published leader read my pages for me while I held my notebook over my face and blushed like a madwoman. In the end? The members of the class cheered. It was the first time the audience had cheered and the leader recommended my piece for an award. They liked me, they really did.

And not surprisingly, my voice came back that evening.

Jump forward to the year 2010. I can say, "I am a mutli-published author!" And yet, I am nervous to go to conference. I always am. But excited too. I still want to improve my writing and I know I have a ton to learn. I want to be inspired and accepted. I want to be surrounded by people who "get me." I want to meet new friends. Most of all, I want to be that author I always knew I could be.

I hope to see you there.

Kimberley Troutte
www.kimberleytroutte.com
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