I’m home from #RWA16, or the 2016 Romance Writers of America annual conference. This year was in San Diego, at the other end of my home state. A short flight, but a world away. Part of me wants to stay in that world. A world where the weather was perfect. Not too hot or humid. A world where everyone smiled and made me feel like a part of a very special family. 2,000 attendees were all there to celebrate romance and learn how to further their careers. Because, yes, writing is a business. It’s not just something to fill our time while the kids sleep, or in my case, practice whatever sport they were playing that season.
Sure, many of us started out writing as a hobby, or therapy. I spent my high school years filling journals of bad poetry and teenage angst. Then I started writing stories. At first, they were only in my head, but I eventually started writing them down. And many years later, I admitted that I was a writer. I joined RWA in 2010, which is the date I attribute to when I became an author. My first book was published in 2014, the year I attended my first conference.
There is something special about finding your tribe. It doesn’t matter that they come from all over the country–and in some cases, the world. It doesn’t matter what size, age, race, gender (although the majority are women), orientation, or any other artificial means we have of separating ourselves from each other out in the “real world.” At RWA, we are all actively seeking happily ever after. Not just for our characters, but also for our books, our careers, and our genre.
Many of us are by nature, introverts. We spend the majority of our lives inside our own heads. Yet something magical happens when you find yourself among others just like you. You already know you have something meaningful to talk about. They know the struggle of being in the middle of writing a love scene and being interrupted by your teenager or a phone call from your mother. They’ve been through the rejection process, whether it’s from agents or editors or even worse, readers.
We are all romance writers, whether we write sweet small-town contemporaries, hot billionaire erotica, or seventeenth-century French historicals. We may have different opinions what type of books we consider our personal “crack.” But we all want a satisfying ending, and for Romance, that means HEA.
After all the workshops, chats, speaker presentations, and pitch sessions. After the publisher spotlights, book signings, and parties. After meeting my favorite authors (and my soon-t0-be favorite authors) and meeting my readers. After crying at literally every single RITA and Golden Heart award acceptance speech. After staying up too late and waking up way too early, I’m exhausted. But recharged. And ready to take my career to the next level.
But I didn’t take nearly enough pictures.