I got back from RWA yesterday evening. It was a good conference, though I was getting over a cold and fighting off some vague stomach bug or case of food poisoning all week that kept me from properly enjoying the social side of RWA or the many culinary delectations the area surrounding the hotel offered. By midweek I'd resigned myself to skipping late-night activities, ordering the blandest items I could find on menus, and eating all the yogurt I could lay hands on. Yesterday was the first day I felt 100% healthy in over a week, just in time to catch my flight home! Oh well. NYC isn't going anywhere, there will be other conferences with other parties, and it's not like Seattle lacks either variety or quality in its restaurant scene. (Next time I have something important to celebrate I'm going here, for example.)
So I shepherded my energies and focused on finding helpful and informative workshops. Michael Hauge's two-hour Uniting Plot Structure and Character Arc lecture alone was worth the price of admission for me. It caught me at just the right time, with a mostly formed plot for my historical romance WIP that could use some refining. I'm always looking for new time management tips like the ones Cindy Kirk brought up in her workshop on writing when you have a full-time day job. And I'll be going back to Laura Joh Rowland's 20 questions on revision next time I'm polishing a manuscript.
Most importantly, I came home with a new sense of purpose and confidence for my writing. Compared to when I first started writing with intent to publish, almost ten years ago, the publishing world has become a far more confusing place. In a way it was easier--or certainly simpler, which is almost the same thing, but not quite--when there was only one game in town, and you were either in or out based on the acceptance of a handful of print publishers.
Now, I'm confident I've made the right decisions about my books so far. Working with Carina has been a wonderful experience, and one I hope I'll get the chance to continue into the future. But with so many options out there, each one with advocates ready to swear it the One True Way, it's easy to worry about screwing it all up--not being able to find MY One True Path that will allow my writing dreams to come true.
I can't point to any one incident last week that changed my focus, but somehow I came away seeing opportunity rather than stress. If I have a One True Path, it's in honing my craft to the best of my abilities and in continuing to write stories I'm passionate about. I'll never be able to guarantee how the publishing market or readers will respond to those stories, but the beauty of all the changes we've seen in the past few years is that there are that many more opportunities out there for the stories I love to find their way to readers who'll love them too. So I'm going to get busy. Or, well, busier. I've got a story I love that needs finishing.