Wednesday, July 20, 2005

It's Not My Party

All this talk about the RWA conference in Reno is starting to make me feel left out. This is not a whine or pout, mind you. I'm not an RWA member and have decided to hold off becoming one until this year's worth of chaos has settled down and I can see where the RWA lands. Even so, I feel like there's this huge party going on next week and I didn't score an invite.

Except, honestly, even if I were an RWA member, I have to admit that I'd be scared to death to go to the conference. As an unpublished writer, I rank somewhere on the same level as the bus boys as far as importance goes. I have no contacts yet, and the idea of going to this place where everyone knows everyone else is more terrifying to me than the prospect of standing up in front of a room full of strangers and giving a speech. I'd rather give a workshop at Reno than be an attendee because then I wouldn't be expected to hobnob.

I'm not a big party person. My favorite kinds of gatherings are the small, intimate type, with a handful of really great friends who all know each other well. When it comes to going to big bashes where I know perhaps only the host or hostess, I'd make up any excuse to get out of it. I don't find the prospect of meeting new people adventurous or exciting. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Not that I'm socially inept. I can small-talk with the best of them. I've honed my diplomacy skills through years of professional project management that have required me to stroke more egos than an LA talent scout. I know how to gush and fawn over those who think they deserve it, to feign interest in those who might one day think they deserve it, and to buddy it up to those who some day in the distant future might be in a place to give me, that cool chick they met in Reno, a mention in the right ear. I'm not a wallflower who would remain in her room, too scared to join the masses.

But even so, I'd hate every second that I stood on the edge of the crowd, shifting my drink from hand to hand while I looked for a loner person who might not mind if a total stranger nobody started talking to him or her. I'd loathe those moments when I hung on the fringe of some circle, wanting to understand the inside jokes and laughing as though I did, wishing that I'd already paid my dues in time spent to become one of the in-crowd. I'd glance at my watch, wondering how much face time I still needed to put in before I could return to the haven of my hotel room. Then once I had returned, I'd sit on the edge of my bed consumed in guilt and remorse over missing the party that continued without me, wondering if I shouldn't go back down to the big ballroom but wanting more than anything not to.

I hope by the time I'm ready to go to Reno, I've made a few real live writer friends who will come with me. I guess despite my near 40 age, inside I'm still that 13 year old girl who wants her friends to come with her to the bathroom.

Because actually, the idea of a few days away from the family to attend what is virtually a non-stop party with a whole bunch of people who have the same interests and passions I do sounds like a blast. I just need someone to hold my hand until I've gotten a start.

Conference going training wheels, if you will.


meljean brook said...

I've been holding off on my membership for many of the same reasons, but although I love the idea of the conference and meeting some of the people around the blogs and such, I'm not a party person at all. Gatherings freak me out, and my small talk sucketh. I'll be the person on the other side of the fringe, looking hunted.

So I think I'll wait until next year, in Atlanta. A year of preparation should be good, right? I can think of lots of things to chit chat about between now and then :D

Lynn M said...

Yeah, maybe by next year I can psych myself up. And I'll tell you what. If I go, I'll pin a giant orange flower to my lapel. When you see the woman with the giant orange flower, you can come talk to me! We'll be the social misfits in the corner. LOL!

meljean brook said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
meljean brook said...

Whoops, hit enter before I was done :D

I'll be the one wearing the Wonder Woman t-shirt :D I'll be channelling the super-hero inside me.