No, I have never been to a National Conference.
I know this is somewhat of a sacrilege, because Nationals is THE place to see and be seen for all romance writers, aspiring and published. But for a long time, I wasn't sure I could justify the cost. Between conference fees, hotel, and travel, this conference can cost close to $1000. I also wasn't sure I felt comfortable taking advantage of the myriad events and people I knew would be there. I'm not a total introvert, but I also don't love large crowds, and I get overwhelmed easily.
But this year, the National Conference is in New York City, about 75 miles from my front door (no long-distance travel costs!). I also feel much more involved in my writing career and the industry as a whole than I ever did in the past. And I have 2 friends who are going, too, so I won't be solo.
But preparing for this conference is daunting, to say the least, There are what seems like hundreds of workshops from which to choose. There are keynote addresses and book signings. There are group meet-ups and publisher events. Beyond that, the NETWORKING opportunities seem endless as well. The conference is still 2 weeks away, and I have potentially 5 lunches/dinners/coffee/cocktail events I'm scheduled to attend!
I'm excited. I'm nervous. I feel like a very small fish in an enormous ocean. But above all, I'm really glad I'm going to my first RWA National Conference, and I can't wait to share everything I learn and experience with you all! Anyone gone to Nationals before? Any advice to offer?