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 Not one person cared I was unpublished and a raw beginner.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.