I like going to conferences, but I’m a terrible traveler. I didn’t used to be. In fact, I lived overseas and went across the ocean several times a year. I’d driven across the United States at least three times. Cars and planes were like a second home. I moved around so often that around age 30, I said, “That’s enough.” For the last decade or so, it’s taken a village to get me off my couch and around conference time, I get anxious. The day before I travel, you don’t want to be around me. My husband describes it as taking an animal out of its carrier in the middle of a busy airport, claws imbedded in its original resting place.
For some strange reason, the day OF travel, I’m fine–and excited to go to a new place and be useful. It seems familiar and I’m convinced that spirit of adventure lives somewhere in me. I get to the airport/car rental and can glide with ease onto the plane, into the car. I am eager to see people and do my job. It’s like I’ve been released from computer jail and can interact with real people, all of whom have a story to tell. Staying in a hotel–where I don’t have to clean or cook–fills me with fiendish delight, even if it’s a dive.
This past weekend, I attended a wonderful conference in Connecticut at a gorgeous hotel/spa. I only went two hours out of my comfort zone but experienced the same process of making lists, getting nervous, packing and re-packing with an easy-breezy travel day (except for traffic). In addition to fabulous writers, the conference hosted a fun group of editors and agents, many of whom I’d never met. And who can resist all-day all-you-can-eat buffet? Not me.
For conferences, an editor has to be “on” the entire time. This is tough without a lot of bagels and M&Ms, which fortified me.* Even if I didn’t eat sugar (which I shouldn’t), the adrenaline keeps me going. After being in an office, reading in solitary fashion for months, conferences are motivating for me. I begin with a vow to attend workshops, which I thoroughly enjoy, especially as a listener, but usually, there’s no time for this. I had a few hours of pitches and I really do love them–though I always feel bad when writers are nervous around little old me. I guess it’s part of their process, as travel anxiety is part of mine.
Around lunchtime, I tend to wilt but this is fine because that’s what you get a new influx of carbs and protein and dessert. Usually, I’m so grateful to be out, actively interacting with romance writers, that I’ll wind up spending money on the cause (this is where my husband screams). I bought raffle tickets and then a writer’s book, not so bad on the purse.
The last few hours of a conference are challenging. Many of us had been up since 6am, if not before**. And if you’re an introvert, as I am with rare extroverted tendencies, you recharge by going to the room and being alone. Did I do this? No. I would have missed out on chicken cordon bleu, wild rice and cheesecake–not to mention a fabulous ghost story from a writer. I got my third wind and stayed until the very end. A part of me wanted the conference to continue. Maybe an extra workshop on how everything went? Any last-minute questions? No? Okay. Then I went to my room and collapsed.
I’m looking forward to repeating all of this at RWA, only on a more massive scale with a bigger suitcase full of snacks. Of course, the day before I go to Anaheim, it won’t be a pretty sight.
Hope to see you all in California!
*I always bring extra snacks and magazines!
**Conference planners–I don’t know how they do it. Hats off!