A lesson in focusing on the good things you have in front of you instead of longing for the thing that’s “over there,” and focusing on what you have done instead of the thing you didn’t do.
I didn’t attend the RWA national conference this summer in San Diego. I could have. I should have. And yet I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money on an expensive conference and flight when I’m not yet published, and if I’d gone, I would have spent an extra week in SoCal visiting family members (and spending more money). It’s also partly because I mixed up the RWA and SDCC dates. In any case, I didn’t go to either event, and experienced serious FOMO as a result.
However, after beating myself up about it for the past few weeks, I’m now looking at the bigger picture, which is this: I live in New York City. I’m part of many writers’ groups, and I regularly attend writing and book events. I have a flexible schedule, especially during the summer, and I’m good about making in-person plans with writing buddies. The truth is, I already have access to everything I wanted to get out of the RWA national conference.
I wanted to attend in order to connect with other writers, learn more about the craft and the industry, and take part in pitch sessions. Yet I’ve managed to do all of those things this summer without getting on a plane or spending money. I’ve connected with other writers at events like Lady Jane’s salon (a monthly romance reading series), RWA-NYC’s Romance Festival at the Morris Jumel mansion, and my local chapter meetings. I’ve spent time with other writers at cafes, bars, diners, and most notably, at a writing retreat in a cabin in New Hampshire. I also connect with the romance writer community on Twitter every Sunday during #RWchat and daily through conversation. I have a weekly video chat with my mastermind group, and I have my non-rom writers’ workshopping group that spawned from NaNoWriMo. There are many pitching events and writing contests on Twitter, and lots of options for learning about craft and staying up-to-date with industry news.
I’m grateful. I love that I’m so connected to the community, both online and in-person. It keeps me going and keeps me writing more than any other factor. And I’m excited about the upcoming conferences and conventions on the calendar, none of which require me to pay airfare.
Yesterday’s RWA-NYC chapter meeting left me feeling full and inspired, grateful and connected. I know there are many authors who don’t have such easy access to community. Their local RWA chapter isn’t nearby, or they can’t attend conferences for a variety of real and valid reasons. I’m lucky, and so, so grateful.
So I’m going to stop beating myself up for skipping RWA this year, and instead plan to attend next year. In the meantime, I don’t have to wait to get what I wanted from the conference. I can find ways to bring myself those experiences all year long.
Photos: 1-2: RWA National Conference in NYC 2015. 3-4: Hanging out with out-of-town writing buddies in NYC, summer 2016. 5-6: RWA-NYC’s Romance Festival 2016. 7-8: Lady Jane’s Salon NYC June & August 2016. 9-10: Writing date with NYC-area writers and writing retreat with NJ writers, summer 2016.