Monday, July 09, 2007

Nationals Advice: be a friend

As I'm sure y'all know with all the internet chatter these days that RWA (Romance Writers of America) is having their national convention this week in Dallas. Originally, I was signed up to go but then bowed out for various reasons. While I hate to miss the excitement and hanging out with so many writers (and friends), ultimately I'm glad I made the decision I did (I decided to put that money towards a few smaller conferences during the year).

With nationals approaching, there's been tons of great advice about what to do, what not to do, etc etc. I highly recommend Erica's series of posts on point as well as Blogging National - a blog compiling various blogs about nationals.

I had this whole post planned with my own advice, but after thinking about it, I realized I only had one big thought on the topic: be nice and find that writer who looks lost, alone, scared, and go up and introduce yourself, ask her* to join you for lunch or whatever. Think about if that were you in that corner and be that person you'd want to come help you out.**

Last year I knew so few people, and those that I did barely know had really great friends that they only saw during this one conference and already had plans with. I have to say that during that first night I felt very alone and it took everything I had to take myself downstairs and attend the first few events alone, just putting myself out there. And I'm generally not a shy person! I was very lucky that I ran into Kelly R. at the chick lit cocktail hour early on and that she and TARA basically adopted me (and me them, hence why I'm a member -- they're just such cool women!). I also met another aspiring author who knew some people, but not many, and we became fast friends - meeting up for events like the awards ceremony and dinner out.

Everyone at nationals is there because they love to write and are dedicated to it (else they wouldn't be there - nationals can be a huge commitment). So automatically everyone there has something in common, something to talk about and to spark a conversation.

Be the savior of someone's day and be their friend. I'm not saying you gotta be besties, but if you see someone looking tentative around the bar, invite them into your big group. Talk to the person next to you at the workshops or include them in your conversation if they seem interested. Just try to make sure everyone feels included in the weekend, that's my advice :)

* I say her rather than him or her because I've found that the men seem to stick out so much that lots of people easily chat with them -- at least from my observation.

** This is, in fact, my rule for all social gatherings: to make sure no one feels left out.


Heather said...

That would definitely be me at RWA -- the wilting wallflower. I'm not great in crowds, and I don't know a soul *personally* who's going. I *know* lots of bloggers, but they don't know me. :-)

But when I do get up the nerve/raise the money to go to Nationals, I'll screw up my courage and take your advice. One less wallflower at these conferences is a good thing.

Anissa said...

That's such great advice. I haven't been to a conference myself, but can imagine how it would feel to be there all alone. Crowds can definitely be intimidating.

I can't wait to of these years. :)

Heather said...

Carrie - Just in case you didn't get either of my emails (I tried from my yahoo and gmail accounts), can you try emailing me? hlj [at] yahoo . com

Thanks! And sorry for the hassle...

Spy Scribbler said...

Definitely the best advice out there!

I wish I'd met you. Or maybe I did, LOL? It's all a fuzzy haze, now!