Size Doesn’t Matter

Photo by Lilun_Li

Tomorrow I’m heading off to Anaheim for the Romance Writers of American National Conference. Whew! That’s a lot of words. Let’s just say, RWA.

I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit nervous. I’ve been to writer’s conferences before, but they are with my people, my friends, in my hometown. The Southern California Writer’s Conference is where I feel safe and warm.

RWA is new and scary. It’s huge. It’s overwhelming.

Over the weekend my husband’s aunt Ellen sent me this video ~ when I saw it I thought, “I’m that little kitten and the Doberman is RWA”.  Leave it to a writer to find allegory in a silly video about a kitten playing with a dog. I watched it again and realized that, despite his size, the doberman was the sweetest, gentlest dog with that little kitten. I know from being around Ellen and her Dobermans how loving and kind they really are. Their reputation as ferocious beasts is completely misleading, but sometimes we only see their sleek lines, their sharp teeth, and we think big and scary.

Then I started thinking, if Dobermans really are cute and cuddly, RWA might not be as terrifying as I’m making it out to be. Just look at how patient that dog is with that little ball of fur! Like that kitten, I’m going to approach the conference with confidence. A bit of her playful attitude might not hurt either.

In the end, we’re like the puppy and kitten in the picture above. Big or small, young or old, published or not, we’re all in this together ~ keeping each other warm, lifting one another’s spirits, supporting our fellow writer. And you know, there’s nothing scary about that.

So share with us, how do you deal with the pressure of going someplace new where you might not know anyone. Have you ever attended a conference and felt way out of your league? What do you do to boost your confidence?

Have you been to RWA before? Got any great tips for us?


41 thoughts on “Size Doesn’t Matter

  1. I’ve been to one big conference and a couple smaller events and I get pretty nervous and want to hide in the corner, but there’s such a range of peronalities that I usually find people that I can talk to. Somehow there’s always people who are even more shy than me and I end up feeling like I’m not at all when I talk with them! LOL
    Have an amazing time Tameri!

    • Finding people to talk to usually isn’t a problem for me (big surprise!), it’s not saying anything inappropriate I need to be careful of. I get nervous and just spout the most ridiculous stuff. That’s so funny you find shy people and feel like the chatty one.

  2. Oh have fun! you’re such a delightful person I’m sure you’ll have lots of new friends and connections. It’s funny how you can connect with someone at such a big event. At my first writing conference, I met my first writing partner because we talked about the same books and genres during one of the classes. And then we traded cards and she’s been invaluable since. =)

    • Aw, thanks Ellie Ann! That’s exactly what I love about going to conferences, you get to talk to people who totally understand what you’re talking about! How cool that you met your first writing partner at your first conference. That, to me, makes the conference priceless.

  3. I have to admit, I haven’t been to a conference yet, and part of it is because it terrifies me. But I know if I went (and had the money to go!) I would love it. So Have Fun at RWA!

    And that is the best video ever ❤ I love dobies.

    • I really don’t know if you should start small or go big your first time out. I’ll have to wait until I get back from RWA to know the answer to that question. I suppose starting with a smaller, local conference would be good, but the big ones you might have more success of selling your book. See? Tough call!

      I ❤ Dobies too.

  4. HAVE A BALL at RWA, Miss Tameri! No conferences for me this year with the Took in tow, so I’m living vicariously through all y’all who have been going. Make sure to rock Jenny’s bouncy-house! 🙂

    We had a Doby growing up. She was the best dog I’ve ever, ever had. Not a killer at all (although the Hubster, who was bitten by a Doberman when he was little, refuses to believe it).


    • Aw, you could bring Little Miss Took! That would be so much fun for all of us who want to kiss and cuddle her. We wouldn’t get much work done, would we?

      I’m so looking forward to that bounce house. There is a rumor about a slip’n’slide instead and I’m down with that, too.

      Fearless Kitten. I absolutely love that! Thanks so much, Myndi. It’s going to be a blast ~ and my roomie is Debra Kristi, so how can it not be off the hook!?!

  5. Have a GREAT time at RWA. I can’t wait to hear all about it. And I think your anxiety is totally normal. I always feel the same way when I attend a conference or workshop where I know I won’t know anyone. It’s nerve wracking. And, you won’t believe this, but I often turn into a wall flower sitting and hiding in a corner. LOL!! Until I make friends and loosen up and realize that everyone is just as nervous as me…
    Have a GREAT time and we all know you’ll come back with TONS of new great friends! Woot woot!

    • You a wall flower? I can totally see that. We’re a lot alike, you and me. I am extremely outgoing and gregarious, but if there is a new situation, I tend to hold back until I have the lay of the land. Then I attack! Mwauhahaa. Okay, just kidding. Kind of.

      I’m going to take scads of notes so I can share all the writerly goodness with all of you.

      Surprisingly, today I was totally calm. I guess since I got myself as prepared as I can, there was nothing to stress about. Huh. 😉

  6. I love conferences. It’s so much fun to meet and mingle with people from all over the country, sometimes world, especially when you share a common bong through writing. (Um, did Natalie just say she goes wall flower?!? LOL) Uh, back to commenting. 😉 I tend to just dive in and love it, but I’m not stranger to anxiety. I was so nervous I thought I’d pee my pants before interviewing Maya Angelou a couple of years ago, same pre-agent-pitch last year. In both cases I reminded myself that these people are as human as the rest of us, share some of my deepest passions and wouldn’t care if I seemed nervous. They might even feel honored. I think talking and being honest can help. If you feel nervous, say so. You’ll probably make awesome friends that way.

    I KNOW you’ll have a blast. Really hoping to meet you!

    • So I was somewhere between the bananas and black beans at the hrocery store it struck me: I laughed at Natalie’s shy admission! How rude! Sorry, both of you. It’s actually endearing, not to mention honest.

      Since I’m back, I’ll add this (with hopes my blurt syndrome doesn’t kick in): Dressing in a way I feel comfy yet confident also helps. (Whew. Think I did OK there. ;))

      • You are way too freaking funny! I’m sure Natalie thought your comment was hilarious. I know I did.

        I laid out all my outfits today with jewelry, shoes, etc and I’m feeling pretty darn good about the conference now. Dressing comfortable, but confident is such a great tip.

        Can I just say how over the moon excited I am that I get to meet you tomorrow?! I’ll be at breakfast bright and early so I’ll see you there. So many WANAs are going, it’s going to be like a huge family reunion (to the conference, not all of them are going to breakfast, but they could if they wanted to!).

  7. Hey, Tameri! People in conferences are very friendly. They went through the same things first-timers might experience. Feeling shy, reluctant, or overwhelmed are perfectly normal reactions, and they will guide newcomers through it all. As you said, “We’re all in this together.”
    I’ve made wonderful friends at conferences, and I’m sure you will too. Have fun!

    • Thanks Fabio. You are totally right. Everyone there is as anxious and excited as I’m going to be. I started to freak because I found out Tor will be there and, well, being a fantasy writer they’re like rockstars to me. Put a whole new spin on the conference for me. Before, it was just a cool romance thing that I’ll take my sweet little psychological romantic suspense novel to, now it’s an opportunity to have my fantasy looked at, possibly. The chances are slim, but hey, it’s a better chance than I had today at home, right? My nerves are gone, now I’m just super excited. I hope someday I get to hang out at a conference with you, Fabio! And we’ll both be published authors on a panel together… I like this idea. We need to make it happen.

  8. Remember that kitten claws are WAAAAAY sharp! *s* But they purr like crazy which is why Dobermans love ’em. You’ll have a ball–just be the fearless purring kitten and watch how folks will love being around you. Enjoy!

    • Too true, Amy! They might be tiny, but those claws can scratch. I’ll make sure I keep mine tucked away. I just like her playful attitude. You are so, so sweet. Thanks for the kind words and support! I’ll let you know on Tuesday how it all went.

  9. Tameri, I’ll be there – working Registration Desk on Wednesday morning and the Raffle at the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night – I’ll look for you, and you look for me! You’ll do fine – just pretend, pretend, pretend that you’re all outgoing and bubbly the entire time you’re there, and remember you can sleep when you get home.

    Can’t wait to meet you! You are going to have a BLAST!

    • Yay! Another familiar face to say hello to. I’ll be checking in after breakfast, so I’ll look for you. I don’t even have to pretend to be outgoing and bubbly, that’s kind of me all the time. I just need to make sure I’m not a total spaz. If I am, you’ll let me know, right? 😉

      Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

  10. The secret is knowing a few cyber friends will be there and getting to meet them. I met a number of them at DFW. Without them, I would have been in that corner behind Natalie, hiding from everyone.

    • That is so true, David! I’ll be rooming with Debra Kristi, so there’s one friendly face I know I’ll see. I’m looking forward to meeting many more over the next few days, too. Next year, I’ll be at DFW so I’ll get to meet you! By then, we’ll both know everyone in cyberland so it won’t be intimidating at all. Right?

    • Yep! You poor thing, didn’t stand a chance with me, did you? That was a long, long time ago, my friend. That’s why I’m nervous. I’m so comfortable with SCWC and this is N.E.W. But you’re right, I’m a total extrovert so I’ll be fine. Maybe next one you could come out and we’ll storm the castle together?

  11. You may be the kitten here, but you’ve got the biggest personality in the room – and you don’t even TRY. You will have such a blast. I admit, I’m jealous. I went to Left Coast Crime this year and had a great time. I’ll give you advice, but I don’t think you’ll need it. 1. Meet someone new every day. 2. Hang out with your peeps whenever possible. 3. Don’t waste time in workshops you aren’t getting anything out of – have a backup plan. 4. Keep your head out of the dobie’s mouth. Just saying.

    Linda & Rick are trying to get us together for drinks on Friday evening. Hope to see you then!

    • Aw, thanks Gayle! I’m totally in for drinks on Friday. Linda sent me a message on FB and I said whenever you could be there, I’m there. I can’t wait to see you again!

      1. That’s excellent advice. I will.
      2. Yep, I’ve got this one covered.
      3. I used pink, yellow, and blue highlighters on my schedule yesterday for this exact purpose. I need to clone myself a few times since there are awesome workshops at the same time. Dang it.
      4. I’ll have to work on this one. I keep trying, but have you seen how big his mouth is? Those teeth… they’re mesmerizing.

      See you soon!

  12. That video was so cute, except for the moment the dobie was about to pick up the kitten in his mouth…like he was saying, “you know I could swallow you whole and I just might if you don’t pull in those claws, little girl.”
    I can’t imagine it will take you more than 5 minutes to make friends and then you’ll see a bunch of people you already know. If it were me, I just wouldn’t go. Yep, too shy to risk it. If I knew someone there, someone I had already met, I would go. I’ve spent many hours sitting alone at various events because I was to shy to walk up to some to say ‘hi’.
    BUT, you won’t be like that. So, go have fun!

    • I know, Marcia! That’s exactly what I was thinking the Dobie was thinking. You’re that shy? Really? Your online presence gives me the idea that you’re very outgoing. Well, if you were there with me, then you’d be out meeting people. I’m obnoxious like that. 😉

  13. Have fun. RWA is great. and remember nothing is going to happen there that changes your life – and that’s good. you may start the process to land an agent or sell a book but they’re baby steps. so enjoy the moments.

  14. The great thing about not knowing anyone there is that you can reinvent yourself. Be who you want to be. Be the happiest, most energetic and lovable person there. Or maybe that’s already who you are. 😉 But do have fun!

  15. Aww – that video is adorable. Have fun, discover new things, make new friends and come back with lots of stories to tell!

  16. I wish I had some advice to offer you…but the best I can come up with is to fake it until you feel comfortable. I get better at doing that all the time. If I ever find a conference within driving distance, it will probably help that I’m a very accomplished check-out line chatter. 🙂

    LOVE the video. I know what you mean about people judging big dogs as mean and scary. I have nearly 100 pound Jack, who is mostly a pit bull. Poor Jack is a lap loving poodle wannabe and doesn’t understand why people aren’t thrilled to play with him.

    Anyway…have loads of fun at the conference, Tameri. Take lots of notes to share with those of us who live too far away (and refuse to fly). 🙂

  17. I love conferences! I haven’t been disappointed by one of them yet and it sounds like the RWA is going to be rockin’. And all the WANAs that are going to be there??? BONUS! Tameri, I just know you are going to have the best time and we will all be waiting for the stories and the photos. Be your wonderful self and knock ’em dead!
    p.s. I absolutely loved that video and just watched it five times. Fearless kitten indeed!

  18. I’ve been to several RWA conferences and they are fun. Everything is well organized and you’ll find your way immediately. One thing I would suggest is to talk to everyone, the person next to you at a workshop, the person in line ahead of you at a restaurant. Most of the people there feel out of their comfort zone and I’ve found that most are willing to say more than hi, most people will want to have a full-blown conversation. LOL. I ended up eating lunch with three wonderful authors who’d I’d never met before and they loved that I was a conference virgin!!! I got to pick their brains for an entire hour! It’s a great place to network and you my dear Tameri will do just fine. Another thing I’d suggest is getting away from the crowd for a while whether it be a walk outside or a quiet corner somewhere to recharge. My first RWA conference, I way overdid it and after that I did my little retreat thing and it worked. No matter what when you come home, you’ll be tired BUT so full of good memories and knowledge you’ll be on adrenaline high for days. LOL Plan on taking a week to recover… it’s so worth it!!!! Have a blast. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  19. Pingback: Tuesday Tip « Adventures in Writing

  20. Pingback: Coming Down from the RWA High | Tameri Etherton

  21. Pingback: Fearlessness and Frozen Peas: Takeaways From Anxiety « August McLaughlin's Blog

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s