The Pecking Levels of National.
This July, I’ll join thousands of other hopefuls at the RWA Conference in Texas. We all arrive with stars in our eyes and leave with a Vegas hangover caused by too much noise, bright lights, information, star encounters and parlayed dreams.
I’ll be attending my seventh conference and unlike my past performances, things will be different this year. Of course, I say this every year.
I first attended in San Francisco in 2008. Maybe you remember me? I’m the one who met Suzanne Brockmann and treated her like a common writer, not realizing she was a New York Times bestselling author and the award night emcee. Thank you to the ladies in the Goody Room who snickered behind me as I told her that I hoped to run into her again. They set me straight as to her New York Times and RWA status to my own chagrin.
Or how about meeting Linda Howard in the elevator and being so star struck that I couldn’t find my voice? When I did, I said something completely memorable like: “I’m a big fan!” This encounter was only to be followed up by running into Roxanne St. Claire, who introduced herself to me in the same elevator and then waited. I didn’t recognize her, and the discomfort was felt by both of us. I know her now, and should I see her again, I’d be truly star struck.
I remember the awe I felt by sitting next to a Golden Heart Finalist and seeing their pink ribbon. I wanted one of those, and I’d get one, first in 2010 and again in 2012. Wearing the ribbon myself, I was the recipient of envious stares and unmasked anger. Writing is a personal business, and if you don’t final in the Golden Heart but are constantly reminded of those that have, it can be frustrating. Thankfully, they give you a cool Golden Heart pin to wear on your badge. So, the envy of the ribbon might go away, but the pin symbolizes your perfection and angers many for years to come.
Of course, the Golden Heart is junior high compared to the doctorate of a RITA. And how about getting an agent and that first sale and all the steps in-between?
National has been good to me. With two Golden Heart Finals and friends that I cherish, I think of all the lovely steps ahead with enthusiasm and joy.
I take my victories as they come. I’ve reached a very nice plateau only to realize the mountain waits to be climbed.