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Starting From Scratch

Tomorrow I’ll be flying off to Atlanta to attend the Romance Writers of America annual conference.  I’d been planning to write a post that included conference tips and my chaptermates from Long Island and Connecticut gave me some great pearls of wisdom, but I procrastinated and got wrapped up in my revisions and have worried too much about what I’m going to wear and then we have the new puppy…so the post didn’t get written.

But mostly, it didn’t get written because I’m a basket case.  You see, I’m a compulsive planner.  I like to know what to expect before I do something, so I tend to over analyze and over plan situations. Where will I have dinner?  How will I get around? Where is the hotel in relation to the airport? This is my third conference, so you would think I’d be a bit calmer. Yeah, no.

The first one I was just overwhelmed by all the great people and learning opportunities. But I made my way around and since it was in New York, there was a comfort zone.  It was my city, so I was pretty calm about venturing out. Last year, I had a great new agent and made even more wonderful contacts. We were in California and my big excursions were to Disneyland for an afternoon and to dinner one night.  Again, no biggie. Great time.

Now it’s Atlanta and I haven’t been in there since the 80’s.  I swear, I think the last time I was there I owned a pair of leg warmers. I’m a nervous wreck but it doesn’t have anything to do with getting around the city.  My first book has come out.  It’s been doing well and book two in the Forever Love series will be out in November.  I should be flying, but I’m more nervous than I was at my first conference.  I’m trying to figure out why.

I’m guessing it has to do with the fact that I’m in a new stage of my career.  I’m published, which is amazing, but I’m not quite sure what to do.  It’s not like I had some magic author pixie dust sprinkled on me.  But I’m going to be dealing with people differently, be in new situations and honestly, I just don’t want to screw up or embarrass myself.

Thinking about it, this is probably the same thing conference newbies are going through.  I wonder if everyone is going through it to some degree.  This isn’t about our personality types, but about facing new situations. It’s about our insecurity.  And, man, do I have that in spades!

So, I’m going to rehash some old advice for this trip.  And no, this isn’t the advice I received before my first conference, it’s what I told my kids before they went to kindergarten.

  1. Smile
  2. Share
  3. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything
  4. Say hello to people; you’ll make new friends this way.
  5. Listen more than you speak.
  6. Learn something new everyday.

Simple, but it’s sound advice.  Now I just have to follow it.