I am writing this blog in a hotel room at Times Square, New York City. This part of the Big Apple is noisy, busy, crowded, non-stop, and about as far from my kinda place as I can imagine.
And yet, at the Romance Writers of American annual conference, I am having a fine, fine time. How can this be? I have no tolerance for noise, but the two hours of my last book signing–hugely noisy–flew by. I’m generally what the Nice People call tactile-avoidant, that is, slow to offer affection, but here, I’ll hug practically anybody.
This conference is the only place I’m with people who get what I do as a writer. They understand the infinitely variable process of wrestling a 100,000-word story from a single line of prose. They grasp the never-ending challenge of maintaining good health while pursuing a sedentary livelihood. My RWA sisters and brothers know the terror and glee of a business that makes a rollercoaster look as adventurous as a porch swing.
Part of the difference is the subject matter of the two professions, of course. Lawyers… well, they lawyer. If lawyers are involved, then some relationship–a marriage, a business, a social contract–is falling part. If a romance writer is on the scene, a happily ever after story is in the making.
That doesn’t explain the utter delight I see on so many faces at this conference. Something else is at work here, and I think it has to do with our readers. Somebody can love my books, read every one the day it comes out, and also love Emily Greenwood’s books–reading each of those the day they come out.
They can also love the books written by Susanna Ives, Samantha Grace, Roseanne Bittner… and fourteen other authors, too. As a result, romance authors are not only free of a sense of competition with each other, we shamelessly, gleefully, promote one another’s work.
The passion our readers bring to the genre makes writing romance a joyous undertaking, one in which every author can pull for every other author, and challenges and triumphs are shared among us all.
So thank you readers, from the bottom of my heart, for creating this wondrous place for me and for so many others to write. To three commenters, I’ll send signed copies of my August release, Tremaine’s True Love.
Who are your people? What does it look like when you get together with them?
Teachers may be in a boat similar to that of child welfare lawyers. We want the best of those kids while at the same time wanting to pinch their heads. As teachers we can only do so much and the rest is up to the student. This creates a job environment where you are completely supportive of each other but you don’t necessarily get squealing happy to see each other because that tends to mean there are students involved.
My gym is that place where you are thrilled to see each other. You hope someone hits a new one rep max on their power clean. Or you push yourself to just keep up with someone one during a workout. Not simply to try and beat them, but to make yourself better. It’s a place where we get together every Friday night for the month of March, turn the music up, and shout over that music to encourage someone to do even more than you just did 5 minutes earlier. Maybe you need to introduce some CrossFit to the RWA and the health concerns of a sedentary job would take care of themselves. 🙂
Sabrina, the gym sounds like a perfect counterpoint to the classroom–for teachers AND students, I’m guessing. More and more authors have tread desks, and more and more of them are onto the evils of sitting, no matter how fit they might be otherwise.
I think of all those secretaries, chained to all those desks, for all those years… and women STILL live longer than men, on average.
It is quite interesting to me you speak of the lawyers *lawyering* and are professionally cordial when you meet. Same can be said about choral conductors..we’re cordial (mostly) to each other when we see each other but in the *community chorus biz* we often are in direct competition with each other. In competition not just for singers or conflicting concerts but for grants and donations….and money is money. And there are a few around here who are so impressed with their own *genius* ya just nod hello and move on so as not to have to listen to their blather!
My people are really are my own singers or singers who have sung with me in the past…..love them and they love me. And I work with a group of other arts organizations (including another choral conductor)and we squeal and hug and are generally happy to see each other outside of our frequent scheduled meetings.
Seems to me the more we compete with each other, the less we are happy to see someone. And the less we compete or if we are working toward the same (or similar)goal, the more we are happy to see each other!
Kinda sounds like you’re saying competition and joy might be mutually exclusive. One of my first bosses told me, “The problem with you is that you don’t have a killer instinct. You’d be so much more successful if you just has some killer instinct…”
In your situation, imagine if every night, somewhere nearby, somebody was singing to a packed house. Traditional, modern, small ensemble, full chorus, solo… every kind of choral music had an appreciative and sizable audience that was willing to pay good money for a fine program. That’s what romance authors have. We grouse about having trouble finding readers, but compared to many creatives, even many other writers, we’re so, so, so, SO lucky in our readers.
Just want to say thank YOU! Thank you for sharing your amazing books with us. And thank you for what you do for the children.
I hope you have the most wonderful time in New York, and hug as many friends as you can.
We heard over and over again that Times Square is NOT where anybody wants to hang out if they know New York. The hotel was a little overwhelmed I think, but the conference itself went well. I got my quota of hugs, cooked up a few project ideas, and made some new friends. All in all, a good get together.
My family is Sicilian so we are loud, emotional and always surrounded by food lol. My not related people are my card buddies, bowling buddies, American Legion friends, and bocci friends. The more the merrier.
And your cats?
Oh, yes, that’s a given lol.
I am sometimes uncomfortable with today’s “hug and kiss” culture, especially between bare acquaintances. I know this is the new normal and have learned to live with it. However, when I worked with the developmentally disabled population ( I retired last year ), the professional staff insisted on actively discouraging such behavior by our “clients”. Apparently, they viewed it as “socially unacceptable behavior”, and the clients were encouraged to just shake hands! Now, the folks I worked with were for the most part, simple, uncomplicated souls. They were honestly thrilled to see us ( their friends ) every day when we came into work, and if one of us was returning from vacation- pandemonium! To me, their simple, honest affection was more “socially acceptable” than total strangers air kissing each other just because it’s popular. My “clients” were MY people!
I know with some developmentally disabled populations, the idea is to create a strong sense of boundaries, because disability plus an affectionate nature can create a situation ripe for exploitation.
I’m VERY reserved by nature, but among other writers, I expect myself to tolerate a more outgoing norm. I’m always happy to get home, where the most intrusion into my space I endure is a cat walking across my computer keyboard.
my family- we like to eat
So does mine–but the real visiting is in the kitchen afterward among those who clean up.
I’m glad you are enjoying this writing business so much Grace, because I sure enjoy reading your stuff.
Looking forward to TREMAINE, whether I win a copy here or buy one in a couple of weeks.
The romance writing community is very special. I don’t know whether that’s because we write about love, we’re mostly women, we’re looked down on by the literary establishment, or our readers set a good example for us, but by and large, everybody’s prime directive is, “You will never hurt your career by helping another writer.”
I am glad that you have the talent to write the books that so many of us enjoy! Glad you were able to talk writing, characters and plot devices with your peers and visit with friends. 🙂
I enjoy spending time with my dog friends. It’s so nice to talk dogs with friends who get what I am saying. My husband smiles and nods when I tell him that Celeste had a perfect sit and stay. Am looking forward to a club picnic next week. Celeste and Greg and I will have a fun outing with contests and prizes with friends!
Have enjoyed meeting friends online or through my book club who enjoy reading. It’s Fun to share ideas and learn about new authors.
Have a fabulous week Grace and thank you for posting and sharing your thoughts with us each week!
Horse show buddies can be the same way. We’ve ALL been belled off for sustained disobedience, we’ve all had that perfect, “I didn’t know he could DO that!” trot across the diagonal. And we’ve all gotten scores that made no sense whatso.
There are bad apples, of course, but mostly, when the chips are down, ridin’ buddies are true friends.
My people are readers, especially romance readers. I love it when I can be in a group that loves to read and we can talk about books. My sister and I love to read and when we get together, we always talk about what we’ve read and what we’re looking forward to reading. We attended an RWA Literacy signing together one year, we were in heaven.
Romance authors are the same way, and we INVARIABLY complain that writing has but into our reading time terribly.
I’m in search of “my people,” but I am getting closer. Knowing who I am is a prerequisite for finding my people. I’m not as clueless as I used to be in that regard – more pieces fit than before.
One of the reasons I love reading romance is the community of writers. I live the way everyone supports and promotes one another. It’s genuine, and a beautiful thing to see.
Olivia, I know what you mean. I’d rather have three true friends in the whole world than thirty casual acquaintances who develop an urgent need to go to Pilates class at the first sign of trouble.
The thing about romance authors being supportive is that it turns out, that’s just good business. If you saw the movie, “A Beautiful Mind,” the Nobel-prize winning science to come out of the bar scene is that cooperation results in better outcomes overall than competition. We’ve known this for fifty years, and still “capitalism” is touted as the most impressive economic model in the world.
Erm… meanwhile, back among the romance authors….
I don’t have a group of my people who all have something in common like profession or even mother or animal lover. I have a couple groups of friends with whom there is no competition or jealousy but just true friendship. We get together have drinks (coffee, tea, or sometimes alcohol), eat and just chat. 🙂
It sounds like you had a great time at RWA, Grace! It’s good to know that my favorite authors help each other out and are friends or at least friendly.
A few good friends can get you through almost anything. One of my favorite Dougie MacLean songs, This Love Will Carry, is all about that very point.
Thanks for the awesome books that bring us such happiness. (I already have Tremaine.)
I had a covered dish on Saturday. I brought Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Banana Pudding. We had lunch from noon to 1pm and then we had a program from 1pm to 3pm. I saw a lady I hadn’t seen in a long time. We laughed, cried, and ate too much. It does a heart good.
Thanks for a nice post, Grace. My people are my family and my church community. When the family gets together, it’s a mix of fun and games, food and noise, skinned knees and Dr. Seuss books…The church group is much quieter! Both are welcome.
I’m an attorney, but because I work for the military, most of my colleagues move on after 2 years, so it’s hard to get close. My people are horse people. My hobby and stress reliever is horseback (dressage)riding, and I can always find companionship and sympathy/empathy with fellow riders. In our boarding stable in particular, I’m lucky enough to know several women near my age who ride at a similar level and aren’t so competitive with their riding that I feel self-conscious around them. It’s an idea environment.
My family. I have 2 sets and it’s nice because everyone is different. I get to eat at two separate houses for holidays and you can’t beat that