I was a Conference Virgin (#2)

One day I became a member of the RWAus.  

Every month I would loiter beside my letterbox waiting for that all important newsletter to arrive and devour it, most times — still standing like a garden gnome in my front yard (and no, I definitely do not have any — shudder!). Inside that newsletter I peeked into a world that beckoned, cajoled and tempted — words, stories, news, motivational articles — the world of writers.  I continued along my path of being mother and provider, scribbling now and then and every so often undertaking a writing course when funds permitted.

Then, my cubs were teenagers and like a bear awakening from a very long winter, I emerged from my cave where I had been lurking for about seven years. As I stepped out into the autumn sunshine of my life, I made a decision. If I was serious about writing – it was now or never.

So early 2009, I did two momentous things.

I enrolled and participated in Bootcamp 109. Writing wise, the first best thing I ever did. Here I cyber met friendly, supportive and encouraging writers – a truly lovely bunch of women. A few, like myself, very much a novice, others more advanced and yet others — published. Awesome.

Next, I went to my first RWAus conference – that year, Hot August Nights, Brisbane. So with a bulging suitcase, sweating armpits and my heart in my mouth, I crept like a thief past the entrance doors of the hotel.

Stupid of me to feel so anxious at my age. But I did. And not only anxious, I kept on thinking, What am I doing here? Who am I kidding? I’m not a real writer.

That first night, there was a book launch arranged. So I met some fellow Bootcampers and off we trotted, with me still feeling I’m sorry to say, a bit like a duck in a desert.

I was asked, What did I write? There I sat, across from a real, live person (not a cyber name) and a writer was looking at me, interested, really interested in what I had to say. And asked questions!

All through that amazing, exhilarating, exhausting weekend, I was asked the same thing. By beginner writers, advanced writers, contest winners and published authors – and all radiated interest and offered advice, motivation, smiles, friendship. Not one person cared I was unpublished and a raw beginner.

One invaluable lesson, I learnt.

I write – ergo, I am a writer.

And with the RWAus, my passion had found a home.

My Advice for Conference virgins…

  • Do NOT arrive with a full suitcase. Seriously … you will need space for goodie bags, books and, more books. Mmmm, did I mention books? Possibly raffle prizes. (I didn’t think they were going to let me back on the plane.)
  • Pack and wear layers. Air conditioning, no matter where you go, can be fickle at the best of times.
  • Oh god, and don’t forget – comfortable shoes!
  • If you can afford it, stay at the conference hotel.
  • Enjoy yourself. Embrace the weekend as an adventure that could change your life.
  • If you feel nervous, anxious, wondering what the hell you’re doing there? Hand slap! You are a writer and you belong.
  • Lastly, the perfect opening line to new friendships (or at the very least, a lengthy conversation), So… what do you write?

From Here to Eternity, Melbourne, will be my second conference and I’m counting down the days. I’m travelling with my writing buddy, Sandie Hudson – that is going to be fun as this will be both her virgin flight and virgin conference!

I’m so looking forward to catching up with friends and meeting fellow RWA’ers, fellow web team members – some for the first time. And let’s not forget the fantastic workshops, dinner, cocktail party, excursions we have lined up.

Thank you, RWAus and all the volunteers working madly behind the scenes. I hope everyone has a wonderful, enriching experience.

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16 Comments

  1. Anita Joy

     /  June 2, 2011

    Suz, that first conference sticks in your memory doesn’t it!! So thrilled we are going to catch up again in Melbourne this year.
    hugs
    Anita *fellow bootcamper and conference virgin with Suz*

    Reply
  2. Great post, Suz. The Hot August Nights conference had been my first one after a 6 year break. So there were more new faces, it was bigger, and it was great to catch up with other writing buddies. 🙂

    Reply
  3. WOW! It’ll be my first and i can’t wait!

    Good tips and I’ll be using each and every one of them. I live in Darwin and will be getting the red eye down early (very, very early) on Friday morning. Better hope i sleep on the plane, as i doubt i’ll want to doze off in the workshop. If i do, i hope someone kicks me! (: I don’t want to miss a thing!!!

    See ya there! *waving*

    Teg’s 🙂

    Reply
  4. Suz Hamilton

     /  June 2, 2011

    Thanks, Anita, so looking forward to seeing you again. Thanks Eleni & Tegan, hope to meet up with you also. Can’t wait & counting down the days.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the tips – especially that I *am* a writer!! Its hard to remember when you feel like a fraud for being there.

    Reply
  6. Hey Bootcamper buddy. Can’t believe I’m going to actually MEET you and the others. It all ssems so long ago we did the BC thing. I feel Melbourne will too soon become just a blur. Need to practice my slow breathing!!!

    Reply
  7. Suz Hamilton

     /  June 2, 2011

    Actually, this whole year has been a blur for me – lol. Its going to be great. Taking my bootcamp hat too.

    Reply
  8. Suz Hamilton

     /  June 2, 2011

    Hi Kez. Must remember to have a talk to you about this “fraud” business, next NewMaits meeting! That’s exactly how I felt at my first conference. And its not true. PS love your blog.

    Reply
  9. Oh, Suz…. I didn’t know. I wonder if I saw you… Sorry you had to feel like that, but you should have waved me down….

    I remember Brisbane it had that sweet little cathedral out the front. Hopefully I can help hold your hand, and you me at the next conference. 🙂

    Reply
    • Suzanne

       /  June 3, 2011

      I should also add, the next third best thing I did, was become actively involved with the RWA. What a great organisation.

      Reply
  10. Suz, I’m so sorry I missed this yesterday. But as you know I had a very big day. I am so looking forward to going to my first conference this year and more so because I’m going with you. I can’t wait to meet up with everyone from Bootcamp, the Online Team and all the loops.

    Are we there yet?????
    Should I pack nnow???

    Reply
  11. Sue Rees

     /  June 4, 2011

    And from another newbie and conference virgin –
    it was with almost tangible relief that I read others of you have felt like a fraud being at a “writers’ conference”; that sense of “how can I possibly belong here” is inevitably mixed in with the excitement. I look forward to meeting many of you and finding out what you write too!
    On the countdown to eternity…
    Cheers,
    Sue

    Reply
  12. Suzanne

     /  June 4, 2011

    Sandie, I can’t wait also!
    Sue, perhaps us ‘frauds’ could start our own club. I confess tho, I don’t feel that way this year. At least, not yet .

    Reply

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