This last conference was my fifth. I’ve been to Reno, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, and now, DC. Regardless of what happens over those few, frantic days, I always end up coming home with the same general feeling.
That I’m a fraud and I’ll never publish.
I think the exhaustion and emotional overload make me a little irrational, but year after year, it’s the same. Some people come home fired up to conquer the world. I sit through workshops and other gatherings and wonder how I’ll ever make it. I usually get writer’s paralysis for weeks, if not a month or more. And yet, I go back every year.
Part of it is seeing two thousand women in one place that are all scrambling for the same dream. How can we all possibly achieve our goals? It’s true that one person selling doesn’t mean another person won’t, but seeing the crowds gathered together is overwhelming. Especially knowing it’s only a fifth of your competition (and just RWA members at that.) Of course, all the people brushing by with ribbons declaring them as Golden Heart finalists or First Sale celebrants doesn't help either.
I think another part is hearing feedback from agents and editors in workshops. They rarely beat around the bush. They tell you what they want and don’t want. They will flat out tell you that they’ve seen at least fifty different versions of a theme – zombie archeologists, for example ─ and they’re sick of it. If you are sitting in the audience with your hopes pinned on your witty and brilliant zombie archaeology series, it’s bound to bring you down. Its never good to hear that what you write is unpopular or undesirable in the place you're hoping it will find a home. When your plans are suddenly changed for you, it takes a bit to recover.
I am pleased to report that this year, I did not feel like a fraud. I felt like I fit right in amongst the high-heeled masses. I also don’t feel all doom and gloom about my publishing odds. I think as things go, my career is looking pretty good. I’ve also been writing and editing and plotting like a mad fiend. Very unlike me. Why, you ask? Why the sudden change?
To be perfectly honest, I’m an external validation junkie. Sure, I get plenty from the Playfriends and such, but it’s like your mama telling you you’re pretty. Its nice to hear and can perk up your mood when you’re down, but they’re almost obligated to say it whether its true or not. So, when the hunky boy at school tells you you’re pretty, you not only believe it, but you’re floating in the clouds and putting on extra lip gloss just in case. This year at conference, I got the equivalent of the captain of the football team telling my friend he thinks I’m cute. We probably won’t date, but I’ll tell you what... it feels good.
What was the best compliment you've ever received from a non-mama-like source?