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On Not Attending National

A last brave tilt of my chin — no, not necessary.  Everybody’s come home!

It never occurred to me how much I would miss being part of National this year.  It seemed like a rational decision.  My favorite roomie was moored close to home during that week because her daughter was due to produce a new granddaughter, my English husband had planned a trip to England in September, but was making gloomy noises about the rising cost of everything, including gas, and sudden it occurred to me that all that was needed was for me to skip National this year — New York is so expensive after all!

My husband was delighted.  Suddenly there was in the general area of $2000 available (well, he probably exaggerated what I would spend, but then again, maybe not!) and to cheer me up, he booked a hotel in Bath so that we can go to part of the Jane Austen Festival there.  I was excited, he was pleased, everything in the garden was beautiful.

Then came the build-up to National.  Now I have been fortunate enough to attend every single National since Reno — must have been 2005, because it was the 25th anniversary, and 2010 was the 30th.  That was the year I discovered romance fiction and the RWA.  Heady times!  I have loved each year more as I got to have friends from all over the country and National was the time when we could all get together and unburdened by household responsibilities or families (howsoevermuch loved) and just talk, usually into the middle of the night.  And the other good stuff:  pitching and worrying about pitching and workshops and great talks from authors I’ve loved.

Well, this year everyone was going to the party but me.  I tell you, it was not a happy experience.  I tried to be unselfish.  I tried to glory in the expectations and happiness of others.  What I succeeded at was feeling sorry for myself.  Imagining the editors and agents I could have been pitching to with their hands clutched to their breasts, saying, “I never thought I would have the chance to see anything so wonderful!”  Imagined the workshops which would suddenly show me the high road past all my writing difficulties.  Imagined the joy of seeing some of my favorite people up for the Golden Heart actually winning!

Well, one of them did.

I have learned.  If I have to start putting quarters in a jar now (which would not be a bad idea), I am going to Anaheim.  Come hell or high water.  And to those who say the smaller conferences are better, I’ll say yes, the smaller conferences certainly have their charms.  But National is National.  That’s it.

Of course, it isn’t September yet.  And I do get to see our old friends and maybe make new ones in Bath.  Never been to Bath.  It will be a wonderful experience.  But a substitute for National it is not.

That’s what I learned this year.


6 Responses

  1. Oh, Beppie, I’m right there with you. And I’m determined to go to Anaheim. At least you get to go to England and got a grandchild out of the deal. Send me a postcard, eh? I ❤ Jane Austen.

    • Come September I’ll be sure I made the right choice — but this year sure taught me that missing National is not a choice to be made easily! Of course, I kept telling myself, this year was a special year — three people I cared about were GH finalists. Only Jo Anne Banker won, but she’s a very dear person to me: she’s the moderator on my 100×100 loop, and we’ve held hands through ups and downs.

      But she’ll be in Anaheim and so will you!

  2. There is a conversation on the PRO loop about saving money for RWA dues and RWA National. My suggestion was exactly what you are doing…Putting aside a little each month…Even $10 or $20 a month will add up quickly. And since the conference was held a month early this year, you have 13 months to save!

    And you were missed this year. 🙂

    • Thanks, Cyndi — all I heard were raves, by the way, for the PRO retreat. You’ve really done a terrific job!

      I’ll just have to keep my jar of quarters from my beloved husband. Every two or three weeks we take our grandchildren to a Big Boy restaurant close with a breakfast buffet where they can eat as much bacon as they want! There are those machines with toys and “tattoos” on the way out that gobble quarters, and needless to say, Soft Touch Grandad dispenses them freely.

      I’ll have to hide mine under the bed!

  3. You know, I get it because I would feel the same way. It’s not just Nationals for me..it’s away time to indulge in the part of me very few people know. Most of the time I’m Jake’s mom or Doug’s wife or plain ol’ Amy – daughter, friend, sister, teacher, etc. At RWA, I’m Liz Talley, author of mult-published works. I dance at the Harlequin party, I dine with writers friends, I plot with my editor, I discuss trends and plot structure. I LOVE who I am at Nationals, so therefore, I make it a priority to attend. Just for me.

  4. I feel your pain, Beppie! I feel that way every time I can’t attend, which is two out of every three years now.

    Liz, I think the way you described it is fantastic. Very eloquent!

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