by Kate Carlisle
I did it! I met my deadline for ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE, the next Bibliophile Mystery. Pretty good, considering that I’ve been working in the midst of a total kitchen remodel and my family visiting. When I reached the final sentence of the final scene, I paused, took a deep breath to savor the moment, and then slowly typed: T. H. E. E. N. D.
Moment savored, moment gone… and instant panic set in.
The Romance Writers of America conference is mere days away, and I have done nothing – nothing! – to prepare. I have nothing to wear. My nails have suffered the double mutilation of hammering away at the keyboard and of being gnawed at while I tried to work my way out of plotting quagmires. My scalp has little bald spots from me tearing out my hair, trying to get the book done in time.
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. If you’re going to conference, promise me you won’t look for bald spots!
The truth is, I have a lot of work to do to get pretty enough for conference. Because you know that we all want to look good for each other. It doesn’t matter that 98% of the attendees are female. It’s soooo not about the men. We want to look fresh and relaxed so that when we reunite with friends we haven’t seen for a year, they’ll tell us how great we look, and we’ll be able to believe that they’re not just being polite.
(Yeah, I dream big.)
We also want to look professional so that when we see our editors and agents and other industry professionals, they will get the impression that we easily handle the stresses of this writing life. In the hopes, of course, that they’ll pile on more stresses by giving us more, bigger, and better contracts.
(I do actually dream big.)
Which means, of course, that I must go shopping. And I can’t rely on the internet this time. There’s no time to have clothes shipped to me, try them on, realize I ordered the wrong size, return them, and get a second outfit to try on in the comfort of my own home. No, I will have to brave the harsh light of the dressing room.
And don’t get me started on shoes. Ack.
I can’t possibly visit the clothing stores until I get a mani/pedi. Otherwise the sales clerks won’t take me seriously. Getting a manicure is an exercise in patience for me. It’s hard to sit still long enough for the polish to dry. Almost invariably, I end up with at least one ding. So I repair the ding by adding a glop of polish, which leaves a little raised bump on my nail that looks like I have some sort of medical condition.
If you’re going to conference, promise me you won’t look for deformities on my fingernails!
My hope is that all the panic and craziness I’m going through now will pay off in the end. That I’ll arrive at conference looking polished and chic precisely because I am worried about it now. Which means at conference, I’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experience without giving a second thought to how I look.
That is, perhaps, the biggest dream of all.
The RWA conference is part professional networking event, part high school reunion. When is the last time you attended a big conference or reunion? Did you stress about what to wear, how your hair looked, how your nails looked, whether your shoes were scuffed… ? When you look back on that event, what sticks out most strongly in your memory?