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2000 friends

Many of the Golden Heart finalists at The Golden Network retreat (yes, that's me down in front)

It’s heady stuff being surrounded by 2000+ people who get you. That’s why I will save up my money each year to attend the RWA National Conference. Not only is everyone in attendance a writer, editor, or agent, but they are largely romance writers, and mostly women.

Nationals is the place where I can be exactly what I am—a romance writer—and feel totally loved, accepted, and encouraged for it. I can turn in any direction and grab a random woman-with-a-badge, and she’ll be able to commiserate with me about the genre’s detractors, the pain of rejection, the agony of revisions, and the heartbreak when the muse has left the building.

And more than that, she’ll likely share any tips she has for how to overcome whatever my issue of the moment is. If I’m nervous about my editor appointment, she’ll probably offer to listen to my pitch or tell me her experience—whether first- or secondhand—with the person I’m meeting.

If I’m feeling insecure about all the rejections, she’ll likely remind me how long today’s bestselling authors chugged away at it before finding an agent or publisher who believed in them.

Hundreds of writers at the annual PRO retreat, 3 hours of information and encouragement.

The sense of community that RWA offers online and at chapter meetings is amplified exponentially at Conference. It's a little slice of time out of “the normal” that's almost unreal.

I come home shell-shocked and frazzled and exhausted, and ready to dig back into my writing, energized by the support, wisdom, and perseverance of my peers. I come home with new friends and improved relationships. I come home having met online friends in person, finally solidifying that spark of common ground that we found on Twitter, an email loop, or on a blog.

Writing—in any genre—is not for the faint of heart. It’s a solitary, lonely business fraught with rejection and hard work. Nationals is where I renew my writerly soul with knowledge, friendship, and motivation.

I realize not everyone can attend. Money, family, and work can get in the way. But romance writer or not, you don’t have to go it alone. Find a local or online group, follow #writing or #amwriting on Twitter. Hang out with me and my friends on this blog. 😉

Everybody needs support. There are no gold stars or A’s for effort, but writing friends will always be happy to talk you up, or down, as needed.

Just try us.

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve already started making plans for next year.

    Being on the Left Coast, it should be a little cheaper for me to get there from Arizona. I may even drive … or carpool with chaptermates.

    • Reply

      Oh yeah, if I were still in AZ, I’d totally drive. That’s an easy one as long as you have A/C. 😉 I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!

  2. KM Fawcett


    RWA conferences always renew me too. The energy in the air is so thick you can chew it like gum. It’s awesome.

  3. Reply

    Terrific post, Gwen. It articulated exactly what I was feeling about my experience. I’ve already started the account to save for next year. I will be there. The time among those who “get me” (as you put it) is too important to miss.

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