Monday, July 24, 2006

Walking the Thin Line Between Networking and Stalking

I’m off to the RWA National conference in Atlanta this week with 2000 or so other writers—published and unpublished. This will be my third National conference and each year I make an attempt to set some goals to justify the cost.

In 2004, in Dallas, my main goal was drinking margaritas with my friends. Not a lofty goal, I admit, but because I’d been planning to pitch my manuscript to a line at Harlequin that had just been cancelled, I couldn’t come up with a better goal at short notice.

Mission accomplished. Drunk writer talk works in Texas, too.

Oh, and in addition to eating Mexican food and drinking, I went to heaps of workshops and learned a ton about the business and the craft of writing. Bonus!

In 2005, the conference was in Reno, and my main goals were to make a great pitch to Deidre Knight and to drink margaritas with the new friends I planned to make at the conference. Goal number one went even better than expected and I’m now represented by her sister and fellow Knight Agency agent Pamela Harty. Goal number two proved trickier (and here I thought it'd be the easy one). I think my problem was, while there were lots of places to get a drink (anywhere--it was a freakin' casino), there wasn’t the obvious hotel bar meeting place. Lots of conference attendees were hanging in the casino, but it was hard to know who was open to talking and who was more intent on hitting those triple sevens. The most obvious bar had about 5 tables. I mean, they want you to gamble, not sit around and talk. Then there was a dance club sort of bar, which I later found out many people I'd like to have met were hanging out... but my shy-side kicked in and walking into a dance club alone just didn't happen.

All in all, I found the whole conference in a casino thing a bit surreal. Yes, even more surreal than a conference sharing a hotel with 10,000 Mary Kay reps draped in sashes and bows and berating authors for writing smut and (gasp) not wearing panty hose or lipstick in public. (If you were in Dallas, you know what I mean.)

Now it’s 2006. Another year, another conference. This year, I’m not sure I want to declare my goal for the public record, because it involves meeting a certain writer and pumping her for information and becoming her new best friend. I'm sure I'm one of hundreds who'll have this same goal. (No, the target's not Nora.)

This goal begs the question—when does networking become stalking? When does the desire to connect with a writer you admire—whose career you’d love to emulate—become just a little freakishly scary?

Hmmm… is it when you and two other writer friends have made plans to stage a kidnapping? (Don’t worry D & M. If the cops get me, I won’t rat you out. ;-)

Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes.

3 comments:

Eileen said...

I leave for RWA tomorrow- I'll stalk you if you stalk me.

Maureen McGowan said...

Ha!

Sara Hantz said...

So........ have you succeeded yet???

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