True Confessions of an Introvert at a Writing Conference

True Confessions of an Introvert at a Writing ConferenceIf you happened to see a crazy woman driving an orange Subaru north on I-25 and bawling her eyes out yesterday, that was probably me.

The 2014 RMFW conference is over. I’ll be updating the blog every day this week to tell you about it, but it won’t be enough.

On my first day there, I sat down with a few writers in the hotel lobby and one of them looked at my “First Time Attendee” badge.

“Your head is going to explode,” she said. “You’re going to learn so much that your head will explode.”

After three days, my head, thankfully, remains intact, but I’m still trying to process the conference experience as a whole. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d say: overwhelming.

Tweet: If I had to describe the conference  in one word, I’d say: overwhelming. http://ctt.ec/vuhtd+If I had to describe the conference in one word, I’d say: overwhelming.

When I set foot in the Westin hotel on Friday, I’d met exactly one person there previously, and I’d spoken to her for a grand total of about ten minutes. I knew a few other attendees from Twitter but, for the most part, I was completely on my own. I’m a gamer who regularly attends gaming conventions, so I’m not unfamiliar with crowded conference center hallways filled with people I don’t know. I’m also not shy, so I’m perfectly okay with holding out my hand and introducing myself to whatever stranger is standing next to me.

But (and this is a big but), I’m also an introvert.

I can offer a smile and a handshake, but that gesture costs me something each time I do it. It’s an emotional drain, a pull of power from my battery, a draw from whatever internal well sustains me over the course of a day of human interaction.

Usually, when I go to a gaming convention—or any social event with a lot of strangers, really—I have a safety net. Not all interactions cost the same amount. There are some people I know so well that being with them doesn’t cost me anything at all. Spending time with them is like stopping at base in a game of tag. It’s a chance to feel safe while I catch my breath. It’s not that the running around part of tag isn’t fun. It’s just nice to know that going back to base is an option.

RMFW was organized in a way that made meeting people easy. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and kind. I’m glad I went. But I had no “base” at RMFW, and it was so much harder than I expected.

I’ve heard that some yoga practitioners find themselves crying spontaneously in the middle of a practice. No rhyme or reason to it, some internal wall just comes down and emotions flood out. Maybe that’s why I felt tears threatening as I walked out of the hotel yesterday afternoon. I wasn’t sad the conference was over or upset about the way it had gone. I simply had no walls left to hold anything in. The crying weren’t a good thing or a bad thing, it just was, and once it passed, I was completely emptied out.

I think it will be a few days before I’m filled up again, before I can “go forth and write.” That’s okay. Every internal resource I spent, I gained back in another form. In knowledge. In inspiration. In community. In Starwood Preferred Guest points.

Tweet: Every internal resource I spent, I gained back in another form. In knowledge. In inspiration. In community.Every internal resource I spent, I gained back in another form. In knowledge. In inspiration. In community.

Maybe more of the first three than that last one.

It was all worth it.

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Wake Up Call

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“Billy Goat Gruff by Danie Ware, CC BY 2.0

There are four days left until the start of the RMFW Colorado Gold conference. Four. Days. In between frantically polishing my manuscript, worrying about my hair (PRIORITIES), and watching the mailbox for my shipment of business cards, I’ll be spending the time I have left trying to perfect my pitch for those precious ten minutes when I get to sit down with a literary agent and talk about my novel.

This is hard. I’ve spent so long intentionally not divulging much about my book that it’s difficult to get into the habit of talking about it. When asked what I’m writing, I usually just say, “It’s an urban fantasy novel” or, if I’m in a talkative mood, “It’s an urban fantasy novel about the daughter of Sleeping Beauty.” It seemed like delving too deeply into the details might jinx the writing of it.

Starting four days from now, that time is over. When someone asks me what my book is about, I need an answer. A real answer. So here it is. This is my novel, Wake Up Call.

Penelope Wakefield thinks she knows everything there is to know about the Folk, the fairy-tale creatures who live unseen amongst us. Aside from helping out an old school pal with the occasional relocation job, she’s content to ignore them in favor of her bike, her iPhone, and her job at a Denver record shop.

Avoidance works pretty well until Pen’s father, one of the last human mages, dies, and Pen travels to the mysterious mountain town of her birth for the funeral. Before the casseroles are even finished, Pen’s mother, a legendary sleeping beauty, disappears into the forest. When Pen teams up with a surly klabauterman, two of the three Gruff brothers, and her father’s hunky apprentice to find her, it quickly becomes apparent that more than just one life is at stake. Family secrets start to fly, and Pen learns that her life is more entangled with the stuff of fairy tales than she could have imagined. Revelations about Pen’s parents and about Pen, herself, threaten three hundred years of peace amongst the Folk.

It’s up to Penelope to get her mother back, return the Folk world to equilibrium, and (this is the hardest part) learn to survive in a town with no cell service.

So, there you have it. And I have four more days. Someone hold me.