Where I’m supposed to be: Texas.
Where I actually am: my living room.
What I should be doing: networking with my peers.
What I’m actually doing: wishing I was in Texas (and networking virtually).
It’s that time again — the Romance Author Mastermind (RAM) conference — and because of COVID-19 the past two years have been offered virtually. This year, they offered both options but knowing it was my daughter’s senior year, I knew I couldn’t jet off to Texas for a conference and possibly miss out on something at home.
It was a wise decision but not without consequence.
Virtual is great but it’s not the same.
I like the convenience of watching the sessions when I can squeeze them in but therein lies the problem as well.
If I were in Texas, I wouldn’t be here to solve problems, run to the store, pick up the teenager, or navigate the needs of others around my own.
I would be networking with my peers, going to live workshops, soaking up the atmosphere, sharing a drink at the bar, going out to eat, all the things that people do when they go to a business conference.
By being here, my focus is fractured when I need it to be on my career growth. However, even as I say that, I know I wouldn’t give up these last precious moments with my daughter as she finishes out her high school career, so my sadness is short-lived.
New writers, experienced writers, and everything in-between, I encourage you to find a conference to attend at some point in your career. I cannot stress how valuable and invigorating it is to listen to the struggles, triumphs, strategies, and failures of fellow writers because this career is terribly isolating at times.
Even though we spend our lives hunched over a computer, tucked away from people as we create whole worlds from our brains, we need to know we aren’t alone. It helps to know that in spite of a giant catalog of work, acclaim, and personal success, a New York Times bestselling author can and often does, struggle with the same internal challenges as someone like me who is still on her journey to that pinnacle.
Imposter syndrome is a debilitating struggle for many of us in this business and it can crush our creativity beneath its phantom boot. Networking with peers can remind us that we are better than we realize, that sometimes our confidence struggles are self-imposed, and that we are incredible storytellers, each and every one of us.
As I listened to the keynote speaker, dressed in a baggy sweatshirt I’ve been wearing for three days in a row because I’m on a deadline and I’m behind (surprise!) I’m so buoyed by the message. Even though I’ve been wrestling with some internal demons as of late, reconnecting to fellow writers is exactly what I needed to relight the creative flame that’d been sputtering.
I am instantly reminded of why I love my job, why I am so blessed to do what I do, and why it is the best career choice for me.
Now, I’m off to squeeze in a shower, change my sweatshirt, and log in for the next session.