Friday, September 09, 2005

conference meltdown

ah, now i remember why i quit going to conferences.


i've been reading several blogs recapping the bouchercon conference in chicago, and it seems as if a good time was not had by all. ten years ago, i quit going to writing conferences because they are so awful. it's hard to say why they are so awful, but i'll try. for one thing, you are plopped down in the middle of an alien environment where you are expected to dwell for several days while enduring sensory overload, very little sleep, and high stress. if you're bipolar -- and many creative people are -- just stepping into the lobby can hurl you into rapid cycling.

anything that may have grounded you doesn't exist there. you may be wearing what i used to call the costume. clothes i only wore to these awkward functions. i took all those ugly girly business clothes to Goodwill, and will never, ever, ever, again purchase a costume for a conference. unless it's a real costume like a sexy nurse or something. if your editor is there, you know she or he is watching to gauge how well you perform in public. how people respond to you. how well you can work a room. other writers are watching you, hoping you trip and fall on your face. some may even help you trip and fall. there are nice people there too. i've met a lot of great people at conferences, people i still keep in touch with. but this isn't about them. and i swear to god, i've seen groups of grown women bawling their eyes out simply because they wanted to get the hell out of there and go home to their own bed and blanky. i'll bet a few guys have wanted their blankies too. these conferences screw up your head, i tell ya.

don't forget to sign up for thrillerfest.

14 comments:

Jeff said...

No wonder you stopped going. It doesn't sound very appealing. I love meeting new people, but I wouldn't like, as you say, being plopped down in a stuffy, alien enviornment, and expected to engage in useless superficial chit chat. And all the while surrounded by several phoney people who probably couldn't care less whether I succeed of fail? No thanks.

As far as Thrillerfest is concerned, I'll be there. :)

anne frasier said...

yay! i'll bring the puff paint!!

anne frasier said...

honestly, i'm having serious second thoughts about going.

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Kelly Parra said...

I've been to 2 conferences. One straight fic, the other romance. And guess what? I didn't really have to do all that much small talk, well, because I'm shy. LOL! Only a few people chatted with me who I didn't know. And this is totally out of the blue, but I live in small town where I'm not a minority, but when I went to conference I felt like one. Strange experience! =b *wink*

anne frasier said...

kelly, i used to really enjoy conferences until i sold. hah. just you wait!! and i know what you mean about the whiteness. my word, not kelly's :D

nobody's fault, but it's really obvious when you are used to a lot more diversity. all of anything is boring. i grew up in southern new mexico where i was probably a slight minority. i was fairly dark so i was able to move smoothly between cultures, which was cool. and st. paul is hugely diverse -- (but with some very white pockets), so i really notice those things. "whoa, it's so white here." blink, blink. :D

DIE! DIE! said...

Yikes! I'll keep a mental note never to go to one...

anne frasier said...

don't let me sour you on conferences. i tend to exaggerate everything. if you're a writer, conferences seem to be unavoidable to some extent. and some people actually LIKE them! unpublished writers can get quite a bit out of them since they're often an opportunity to meet agents and editors.

JoAnn Ross said...

Hey Anne -- I just stumbled across your blog and so agree with this! The last big national conference I went to was twelve years ago, but I'm stumbling out of my writer's cave for Thrillerfest (unless I freak out and cancel at the last minute, which I've been known to do) and promise to share my blanky. (And better yet, my pitcher of margaritas.)

anne frasier said...

joann, i'm already backpeddling. made my hotel reservations, but am thinking i may not go -- after being reminded of all the crap! but the margaritas are tempting...

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Call me crazy, but I'm really looking forward to ThrillerFest. Maybe because it's my first conference.

Now you've got me worried... :)

anne frasier said...

rob, don't let me worry you. even after all my bitching about conferences, i really don't want to miss out on the first thrillerfest.

JoAnn said...

Anne -- actually, it's funny (ironic, not haha), but it was your question about the signings that made me remember all the surrounding crap that had me stopping going to conferences in the first place. But this is a new group. Maybe things will be different. Okay, probably not. But instead of bawling our eyes out up in our rooms, we can devise ways to kill those who annoy us.

anne frasier said...

joann,
it'll be interesting to see how it all plays out -- brand new organization and all. could actually be fun. plus i know this goes against what everybody is saying about public image, but worrying about how i'm being perceived is what makes conferences so horrid for me. the fake clothes, the kind of glossy, fake exterior that i'm trying to match. so i'm always editing in my head. ickickick. quite a while ago, i decided all that crap had to go -- even in my daily life. i'm going to say what i think and quit keeping my mouth shut. i'm going to try to go to the conference as myself. maybe i'll have a meltdown. or maybe it will be fun. :D