National…sort of

You know, I’m pretty well flabbergasted by anyone who managed to blog from National. In some ways, the whole time I was there, I felt like I didn’t have two brain cells to rub together. I know that’s not true–what basically happens is that my focus narrows so completely that what’s happening in the here and now is all I can think of. I can’t step back far enough or focus enough to describe what’s been happening.

Mind you, I tried. I brought the Neo, fully intending to keep a journal, and to post it when I got home. The reality was that I rarely got back to my room before midnight and after I was done puttering around, putting one day away and setting up for the next, it was 1:30 AM plus, and I needed to be in bed, heading for sleep.

When I got married, everyone said my wedding would be a blur to me. I can remember being at my reception and waiting for the blur to start. It never did, but the day is so intense and there’s so much going on, that you can’t process everything into memory. The experience isn’t a blur, your memory of it is.

National is just like that. I remember very little of what I did or what happened. What I do remember seems to revolve around parties. (That it’s all blurry is especially amusing, given the fact that I don’t drink alcohol.) There were the parties in rooms and suites where e-mail friends got to reconnect in the flesh, everyone beaming at everyone else because we’re just so happy to see one another again. There was the Cherry party after the Literacy Signing, featuring a chocolate fountain and a lot of identification by one’s Cherry name.

Then there were the publisher parties. On Friday night at National, the publishers throw parties and invite authors, agents, and members of the RWA board. Oh, and the workshop chair–me, this year. I got invited to three parties but only managed to go to two.

The first one was the Ballantine and Bantam/Dell party. They’re all imprints of Random House, so it was all one party. I got introduced to Nina Taublib, which I found very cool, and I got to say hello to various authors I knew. The food was fabulous and the staff delightful–I told one waiter I love artichokes, so every time he brought out the artichoke hors d’oeuvres, he came to me first.

Then I went to the St. Martin’s party at Ray’s in the City. The food there was fabulous, too, but the best part was getting to know a new friend. She and I and her friend talked in a corner of the restaurant for something like six hours. They finally had to turf us out because they were closing, so we walked back to the hotel, went up to her suite, woke up her roomie and talked for another hour. I feel like I made two new friends, like a gift from heaven, and that makes me happy.

That’s one of the reasons this felt like a magic conference to me.

The other reason is sitting on a bookcase in my office. For ages I’ve been wanting to buy a statue of Shiva as Nataraja (Lord of Dance), but I haven’t gotten myself organized enough to do something about it. The image resonates very strongly with me, in ways I can’t articulate. Just outside the hotel, there was a little shop holding a going out of business sale and there, in the front window, was a statue of Shiva. It felt magical and as if I were meant to see it, so of course I had to buy it.

And then I had to get it home. The if-you-can’t-do-without-it-put-it-in-the-carry-on rule applied here; the only question was how to pack it in the carry-on so it didn’t get hurt, it didn’t hurt anyone else, and it could come out easily, because of course I was going to have to show it to the TSA employees going through airport security. (They were very courteous and understanding, as if brass statues of Shiva came their way every day.)

I originally planned to put Shiva on my desk, so I could see him while I worked, but the minute I tried I knew it was the wrong thing to do. When I looked at the bookcase, however, there seemed to be a hole on top of it, as if it had been waiting for Shiva all along. So now I see Shiva every time I enter my office and every time I leave; somehow that seems more right and true.

I did manage to attend four workshops, one because I moderated it, and one because it was my only big outside speaker. All four of them were fabulous, but the big outside speaker, Michael Hauge, gave me that crackling, snapping sensation you get when the pathways in your brain are rearranging.

I didn’t do much exploring on the business end of things. No workshops on the market, no publisher Spotlights (where editors talk about what they’re looking for and what they’re publishing). Although I have a romance percolating in the back of my head, I won’t be able to take it off the back burner for at least another year, once the fantasy is written. And what romance publishers are looking for is of limited usefulness to a woman writing a full-on fantasy whose romantic entanglements are not part of the plot or subplots.

I’m sure this is scattered and not particularly coherent–if it is, you’re getting a sense of what National is like for me. It’s intense and otherworldly, and when I’m there I’m in an altered state of consciousness. Which makes making sensible reports tricky. When they’re not impossible.

I’m sure I’ll remember more; hopefully it’ll be more coherent….


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. --Karen H
    Aug 05, 2006 @ 21:30:00

    Ahh, Katy, I know exactly what you mean about RWA National. It’s all a real-time blur when it happens, and it’s only afterwards that I can sort it out.

    Very cool about Shiva. Reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, oddly enough–it’s a Shaker hymn, titled “Lord of the Dance.”

    Thanks for the link to the blog on National. Couldn’t go this time, so am searching for reports.

    –Karen H (cherry yoda)


  2. Katy Cooper
    Aug 05, 2006 @ 21:44:00

    Oooh, a connection to the Shakers…

    Once, when the beloved and I were in western Massachusetts, we went to one of the Shaker villages–I can’t remember the name, but it’s the one with the round barn, and in one of the buildings, they had Ken Burns’s “Hands to Work, Hearts to God” documentary on neverending loop. I loved being there.

    We also pass the exit for the Canterbury, NH, village on our way to his sister’s NH house–every time we go by, I think we have to take the exit and follow where it leads.

    I have to take a picture of my Shiva and post it.


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