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.
At this conference, they get me. And yet, that's not a complete explanation for what's going on here.
When I'm a child welfare attorney, I'm often in the same courtroom with other lawyers. They do what I do. They're often advocating for the same outcomes I am, and their clients can challenge them as mine do me. Those lawyers and I don't squeal with glee at the sight of each other, we don't light up with joy when one of us wins an appeal. We're professionally cordial (most of the time), no more.
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?