I just spent a good two hours trying to get my conference app up and running for RWA 2014. This was a colossal waste of my time and energy. All it managed to do was make me swear at my computer and threaten to throw it off my deck.
For the last five years I’ve made up my schedule for the conference in a regular document. Each year, I “Save As” that year’s location and start replacing. It seemed to work for me.
I try to add some humor into them as well. “Mingle at a bar” or “Find a buttertart” (that’s for you, Holly). At one conference, I put “Have Sex with Husband” right after my return flight landed. Well, said husband took advantage of my conference time to throw stuff away at home. My youngest called in tears that he had thrown away her American Girl dolls. Another was crying that he was making them get rid of half of the contents of their rooms. I’m a pack rat by nature. This was the worst thing that could happen. My heart was pounding. I could feel my blood pressure going through the roof, and I usually have blood pressure so low I’m practically a corpse. So, I immediately pulled out my schedule and drew a very thick line through that particular event.
On my Golden Heart® loop, the discussion about the conference app made me believe it’s necessary to my life. Now that I’ve tried to make the thing work for me—downloading onto my phone, opening on the web page and trying to make sense of HOW to insert all my wonderful workshops—I tend to disagree.
I’m not sure when conferences became so confusing and why we have to make them even more stressful by adding unnecessary things into the mix. Why do we have to tweet in order to meet up? Why do we have to hashtag stuff? Why, oh, why are people making this conference so stressful? First of all, half the strangers you’re arranging to meet for multiple dinners and drinks will undoubtedly get on your nerves after the first scheduled event. Or you’ll get on theirs. Now you’re both stuck. Be flexible. Don’t schedule yourself so completely that you don’t have downtime. That downtime is essential. Take a breather. Go to your room and paint your toenails if things become too much on the main floor.
Here’s the thing. Every year I make up a schedule. Every year I look at that printed personal schedule after the conference ended, and—without fail—I didn’t follow it at all. At all! With the conference set up the way it is, people get up and leave one workshop to go to another. To be perfectly honest, I’ll ditch a workshop for anyone who wants to grab a drink. Sometimes you make a new friend, and that friend wants to go to a workshop about costumes of the Regency period, and you write contemporary YA, but you go anyway. Why? Because you don’t want to lose your shiny new friend. What if she manages to find a better one in that workshop? It’s like high school all over again. ☺
I have some key workshops in my Word document and some events that can’t be skipped in my schedule, but for the most part I’m flexible. I’m free as a bird. So, if you catch this bird looking conflicted between two workshops—one on her schedule and one completely out of her genre or interests—please offer a third option.
“Wanna grab a drink?”