Wednesday, July 11, 2007

All the Ways I'm Not Ready for Dallas

Maven Jacqueline BarbourMy flight leaves at 5:15 this afternoon. I haven't packed yet. I haven't even figured out what to take yet. But I'm not worried about that. That's normal for me.

No, what I'm worried about is all the other ways I know I'm totally unprepared for the spectacle and information overload that is bound to be the RWA National Conference.

Over the past few months, veteran conference Mavens Erica and Lacey have been sharing insider tips with first-timers Darcy and me. And now, a day before the conference, I realize that I've followed through on almost none of them.

In no particular order, here are the things I meant to do before the conference but somehow never managed to!

  1. Get business cards

    Actually, I did do this. The trouble was, they were completely illegible. Turns out the font was way too small for anyone with normal human eyesight to read. But who could tell that on the website when I proofed them? They looked fine to me.

    Okay, I redesigned them with a larger, more legible font and reordered., whoops, they still haven't arrived and when I looked yesterday at my order history, I discovered the second order never went through. Damn!

    Fortunately, Erica consoled me by saying the she doesn't have business cards and never has and it's never been a problem. Whew!

  2. Get a manicure and a pedicure

    Apparently, cute nails are de rigeur at conference. Unfortunately for me, mine are going to be as ugly as always.

    Okay, this is probably more than you want to know about me, but I have terrible nails. If I have polish put on them, they crack and split. (They crack and split anyway, but it's worse if I polish them.) At one point in my life, I had very pretty acrylic nails and it was great because I never got hangnails, but I can't commit to having them again because I just don't have the time to go get them filled every two weeks.

    And while I suppose I could still have a manicure and pedicure without the polish, I'd have to take the kids. Can you see three kids under 10 sitting still while Mom gets her fingers and toes done? I can't!

  3. Prepare my pitch

    Yeah, I know this one is really dumb. Everyone--but everyone--should be prepared to pitch her manuscripts at conference, not just during her editor and agent appointments, but also to any random passerby or stranger with whom she happens to get trapped in an elevator. But I haven't prepared. Instead, I'm going to try to do it cold.

    After all, I make my living in part by giving presentations and I rarely rehearse them. If I know my material, I can talk about it. And there's nothing I should know better than my own book, right?

    So I'm winging it, kids!

  4. Save space for books

    This one, oddly, is the one I'm most freaking out over. Not because I can't bring the books home, but because I have no place to put them once I get them here! Every bookshelf in my house is filled to capacity and every wall that can have a bookshelf on it already has one. Seriously, I think if I bring one more book into the house, I'll be looking at divorce.

    And will I have time to read them anyway? No! But how can I say to no books? Especially author-signed books. Ack!

If you're going to Dallas (or even if you're not), please reassure with me stories of all the ways you have failed to adequately prepare yourself. Ever get to the airport and have a last-minute panic attack when you realized you forgot something vital at home or think you might have left the stove/oven/iron turned on? Do tell!


Isabel said...

You'll be fine, Jacq, ((hugs))). Umm, last week before our Saturday wedding, was the first time I actually made a list of all the things I needed to do and take before a trip. Though I managed to complete the list, at the very last - once at the hotel - minute I panicked and thought I had left my shoes (the ones that went with my wedding dress) back at home.

I broke out in sweat, imagined countless scenarios including waking barefoot throughout the hotel to wearing my well-worn runnies shoes with my beautiful dress during the ceremony. Luckily the DH had me count to ten and then we "searched" for the missing shoes. They were next to my running shoes the whole time...

Bill Clark said...

Ah - now we know why the Fingernail Fairy is a fixture chez Barbour! Sounds like you guys keep her occupied full-time!

Re the pitch: my advice is to take a zen approach, and let the perfect pitch appear when the time is right. If you practised it over and over, it would (surprise!) sound rehearsed. Better that you let someone ask you a question - "How did you come up with your title?" - and let that be the thread that untangles the skein of your thoughts.

And don't forget to breathe... ;-)

ERiCA said...

How am I unprepared? Let me count the ways...

Normally I show up with a spreadsheet detailing what I've paid for, where I should be, and what else is going on. This year, I couldn't even remember how much of the KOD/BM conferences I signed up for. Or not. I had to do some last second PayPal investigation... only to discover I hadn't signed up for something I'd meant to sign up for, and that I'd double-booked myself at another slot. *sigh*

Such is conference! Just roll with it. No worries. Do what you feel like doing when you feel like doing it, and you'll have a blast!

Lenora Bell said...

I've only been to one (non-national) conference, but I found that most of the interesting stuff happened outside of the prescripted meetings/pitches. If you give presentations for a living, you are going to be a star. I have faith in your ability to brilliantly wing it.

CM said...


I made these BEAUTIFUL business cards and . . . of course, left them all at home! Sigh!

Jacqueline Barbour said...

Oh, Isabel, your shoe story is priceless. Somehow, I think your husband would have taken you barefoot OR in your running shoes, though :>!

Bill and Lenora, I appreciate your faith in my ability to wing it. I just wish while I was winging it, I was actually thinking "And it's ready to pop in the mail Monday morning after you ask me for it," and not "Shit, now I actually have to FIX that load of crap!"

And CM, you officially gave me the best laugh of the day. Sounds like something I would do. (Well, I came close. I didn't ORDER the damned things, after all.) Your beautiful business cards are as useful as mine.

I did do something useful to prepare today, though--I bought two episodes of both House and The Closer for my iPod. Yeehaw!

See ya'll in (or from, as the case may be) Dallas!

Writer & Cat said...

Paint your own toes -- one each in a different color! If you can't be the most salon-looking, be the most striking :).

I made my own business cards that looked good enough (no fuzzy edges) and didn't give any out at any of the conferences I attended.

Darcy Burke said...

I did my own nails! Erica, you slay me! Egads, I can only hope to be as organized as you.

And J, your pitch will be fine. At least you get a chance to settle into the conference before you're up. I'd give anything for that (more on that in my post)!

Bill, I'm going to take your zen approach. That's precisely why I haven't rehearsed. Sorry about your cards, CM. Good reminder...

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens