Sunday, August 03, 2008

I am the Reader, The Blogger and Finally the Writer...

"For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?" -James Allen

My final thoughts on attending RWA

From RWA National Conference Website FAQ’s page:

1. Who can attend the RWA Conference? Anyone can attend the RWA national conference.

2. Should I attend the conference if I am unpublished? Of course! While there are special workshops that only members of the Published Authors Network (PAN) may attend, most workshops are geared to authors at every stage of their writing careers. It is also a wonderful opportunity to "network" with other writers -- chat about writing, share writing woes, exchange good information.

3. Is this conference geared towards readers as well as writers? RWA’s primary goal is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, and the conference is developed with that in mind.

The main question I had about attending my first RWA conference was, do I have the right to go? As everyone knows, I am not a published writer, as of yet. The three questions above are the ones I have asked myself countless times in the past six months since I reserved my spot at the conference. I am part of the “anyone can attend” group. I am unpublished, but I feel I am at a certain stage in my writing career. It was an excellent opportunity for me to network, exchange ideas and talk with others who “get me” and why we all love the romance genre. I feel I am a, "professional and career focused individual romance writer".

Wait, Kate. Stop right there! You don’t write romances.

I may not have published any novels, but every review, commentary and post I have here is geared to the romance industry, the people, the readers and the genre itself. If there were no romances, authors, or publishers who write and publish them, I would be adrift in the world, lost. There would be no light at the end of my tunnel. I would be a drone who goes through life bored. I am a fan and a reader who does tend to go a bit fan girly from time to time. When I walk into a bookstore and go straight to the romance section, my heart skips a beat. When I pick up a book, I feel I belong. I am lost in that world where a happily ever after is promised. Romance books are a promise that I am welcomed. It is like I am coming home again and again. I rather have books than any other things on their planet, even over purses, shoes and even other essentials. If I were down to my last ten dollars, can you guess what I would buy?

I am a blogger whose true joy in life is to promote and support those who have reached their dream regardless of money, fame or prestige. They write because of their love for the written word. They are my idols, my super heroes, my muses. I aspire to be like them. What I do is for love. My parents keep asking me what do I get out of this? I don’t get paid in dollar bills. I can’t put a monetary value on what I do. I write reviews and commentary because it has become as important to me just as it is to read.

I am a writer. I write for a blog. I also write reviews for countless other sites. I may not write books that you can purchase in the store, but I am writer to my very soul. I write poetry and short stories. I have done so since I have been sixteen years old. I have a work in progress I am allowing people to finally read so I can have their opinion and critique so I may possibly be brave enough to send it to a publisher. I have unfinished manuscripts to be finished. My characters call to me, “Kate, come back, we miss you!”

I was welcomed by the romance community this week by authors, bloggers, reviewers, and the publishers. We talked and laughed. I had a permanent smile on my face. I cried. I cried tears of happiness, especially on the last day there because I was welcomed in a way I have never been before. I wasn’t an outcast, I was part of this elite group of intelligent, witty and lovely people. My tears were those of true happiness. Countless people to come up to me give me a hugs and were so very happy because they finally were able to meet me and see me, as well as I to them. I was speechless. As I stood in line for various signings, I was nervous, I was shaking. The minutes I entered the room and went up to my idols, I was at peace. I reached my own personal nirvana.

To those who don’t think I deserve to be there, of course that is your opinion. I may not be a “published author” and perhaps you believe I may have taken away a spot from someone who deserves it. Don’t I deserve it? Am I not worthy? I may not have a publishing contract and my books may not be ready to be purchased, but I am a writer to the very depths of my soul and I say: I belong and quite honestly you can’t take that away from me. This week I did belong and for all those who helped me, who told me to go, who supported me, who gave me advice, who sat down and talked with me, who took pictures with me, who wanted me to be in pictures with them and those who said, “thank you” just because, I in turn say, thank you, THANK YOU. My gratitude will never be enough.

One final thought. I also went for those who couldn’t go, those who feel they don’t belong, those who feel they may not be good enough to write, or don't have the talent to be thought of as an author. As Nora Roberts said during her panel, sit your ass down in that chair and write, stop making excuses, believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Katiebabs (KB)


Ana said...

wow. just wow.

I don't think I can speak right now.

Bev(QB) said...

Other than the babbling I do on my blog, I don't write. So, no, *I* probably don't belong at RWA. But YOU? If I understand what RWA is all about, YOU most certainly belong there as a writer with WIPs and as an aspiring author. The blogs and reviews just make you all the more interesting and all the more visible in Romancelandia. But you were there to learn and be inspired and to network-- in short, you were there for your craft.

So, I say "BRAVA" and "Damn straight you belong there!" I'm so glad you got so much out of it.

Anonymous said...

Who are those who would think you didn't deserve to go? You're a writer. You deserved the spot you took. Screw anyone who thinks otherwise. That's my opinion. Sorry I didn't go this year so I missed the opportunity to meet you. Hopefully you'll be there next year. I will be. :-)

Christine said...

What a great essay to post upon your return from RWA. I hope others who are in a similar place in their reader-blogger-writer career read this and are then inspired by you to chase their dreams as you are doing. Perhaps you will give someone else the confidence to take advantage of the resources RWA has to offer to anyone interested in the romance writing profession. :)

Thank you again for your diligence on providing RWA updates throughout the week. I really enjoyed them! :)

Kati said...

Nicely done, Kate. Even though I spent most of the week pea green with envy, I can't think of anyone who could more responsibly represent those of us who adore the genre as readers and reviewers. Who give countless hours (and money) for sheer love of the books that make our hearts race, our window fog up and our heart a little lighter.

Really, what a well written essay, my friend.

azteclady said...

What bev(qb) said--go, katie!

(and thank you for the loverly pictures and posts!)

Tracy said...

What a wonderful post Katie. You are a writer and you do have WIP but you know, even if you didn't you more than deserved to be there. You just blow a great big cherry at those who say otherwise and are probably just jealous! :)

Thanks to you and Kristie both for posting all through the week so we could all live vicariously through you.

Anonymous said...

Okay - I'll go out on a limb here and guess that part of the "deserve to be there" angst comes from Sybil's post about RWA.

Reading her post carefully, it's clear that Sybil says Internet media, of which your blog is one, should be there. That means you, Jane, Sybil, etc., should all be there.

Reading Sybil's post carefully, it's clear that it was more about how RWA disrespected purely Internet media by not giving it press passes.

Some of the comments and other bits strayed into whether fangirls should attend and the consenus appears to be "no" because fangirlish behaviour makes RWA uncomfortable for writers and takes up space.

A reader blogger may be a fan of writer(s), but I don't think you could call us "fangrrls." At least, not Kate, not Kristie, or anyone in my experience who blogs about reading.

Do I consider reader bloggers "writers"? In a way, sure, though not strictly of the same caliber as a "published" writer. Do I think reader bloggers deserve to be at RWA? Absolutely yes. I was pissed at RWA's narrow-mindedness about the press passes. Based on her post, I believe Sybil feels largely the same way I do.

And if you read it carefully, Sybilish and all, you will realize the same.

Caitlin said...

What a great outpouring of spirit!
Thanks so much for sharing.

Katie Reus said...

I can't imagine why anyone would think you didn't belong. You're a writer!! Being pubbed has nothing to do w/ it :) So happy you had such a great experience. Hopefully next year we'll meet in DC ;)