I'm working like crazy, trying to finish up this novel I started eons ago, and looking forward to working on the next one that I wrote the first pages to at National. I've got ideas, ideas, ideas! Always a good thing.
Finally, my calendar is fairly clear. No classes, no hint of classes, no plan to take any classes (what was I thinking anyway?!) and no company. I took two grad level classes for a certificate, and there's still an internship to go. At this point, I don't plan to do the internship anytime soon. Don't want to. If I never get this certificate, too bad. I'm not losing sleep.
What other lessons did I learn at National? Well, there's certainly a wealth of stuff that you can come across on the blogs. Folks are still talking about National. What to do, what not to do, who said what, pics, etc. I forgot my camera, so no pics of me other than the ones I ended up in with others.
But the most important thing I think I learned was to write my way. The process isn't important. The final product is. La Nora sits down and writes without any idea what will happen on page 2. Suz Brockmann outlines extensively and makes charts with multi-book plot arcs. I am definitely more of a sit down and write kind of gal. I tried the charts, but I got hung up on what happened when I didn't follow what I'd envisioned. That was depressing for me because I love Suz's work and think she's awesome. I figured I'd never be that good if I couldn't make plans for my books in advance.
Allison Brennan, in her fabulous workshop on No Plotters Allowed, says that she wrote the first chapter of one of her published books six different ways before she got it right. You just can't be afraid to redo something, or throw something out if it isn't working. Great advice.
So here I sit, writing forward and typing in words like STUFF HAPPENS when I don't yet know what's going to go in a scene. It's freeing and silly all at once.
Other things I learned at National:
Nora Roberts is COOL, y'all. She is well-spoken, hilarious, and so gorgeous. And her shoes are amazing. Patricia Gaffney is a hoot as well. Her intro of Nora was so good. (I remember once, many eons ago, when these two ladies did a booksigning in Waldorf, MD. Nora was not NORA then, and they sat at the table without huge lines waiting and I was too petrified to go up to them. I wanted to be an author too, and I was terrified of talking to them. Duh. I hadn't written the first word of a romance novel yet, but I'd decided that's what I was going to do. I wish I'd spoken to them.)
Comfortable shoes may be sensible, but fabulous shoes are better. I wore heels. Tall ones, but they were platforms so not too bad, and I loved every minute of it, even when my feet were screaming at me. 🙂
The bar is THE place to be. Writers like their diet coke and their alcohol. (On the plane back, for instance, I sat next to Gayle Wilson, previous RWA president, and across the aisle from us were the ladies of the Writing Playground. When the flight attendant came around asking what we'd like to drink, we all ordered diet coke (2 ladies ordered reg coke, but only because they prefer diet coke with Splenda).) Margaritas seemed to be the alcoholic drink of choice, though I went against the trend and had red wine. 🙂
Be nice to everyone. You never know who you are talking to, or who may overhear something you say. Thank heavens my mother ingrained in me the necessity to be polite at all times because I'm not afraid that I said anything bad. I did hear stories about bad behavior, editor/agent/fav author stalking, but didn't personally witness any of this. Whew.
Mostly, I learned that I will go to National again. I'd avoided it for years, simply because of the expense and the fact I usually lived a looooong way away, but it is a worthwhile way to spend a week. There's nothing like being in the company of 2000 other people who share the same compulsion. It freaking rocks!