RNA Conference July 2014

A few weeks Tricia and meago Tricia and I ventured up north for the 2014 RNA Conference. It was a pleasure to be driven for once, and thanks to Tricia’s skilful driving we arrived relaxed and rearing to go, if a little late for afternoon tea with no thanks to the motorway traffic, miles of roadworks and an incident that had blocked one of the two lanes through the roadworks.

The venue this year was Harper Adams University near Telford, Shropshire, an agricultural college where we were lulled to sleep by the wafting smelly air from the pig pens – good, healthy country air, as my mother would say. That aside, the food was exceptionally good, all prepared and produced at the college, and here I was even brave enough to sample goats’ cheese, which was excellent. I had always imagined it to be strong tasting and overpowering; it was quite the contrary.

Our quarters were in the student residence halls. My, student digs have certainly come on some over the years! A comfy bed, decent furniture and wardrobe and en suite bathroom, with every-thing else required (irons, kettles, fridges, etc) in the communal kitchen areas, where much socialising (and drinking) took place well into the night, with the exception of our first evening. Many had settled themselves on the lawns outside our halls for a picnic party. Too tired to join in, Tricia and I retired to the kitchen for a quick nightcap and left the youngsters outside to enjoy themselves. One of the main attractions of these conferences is catching up with old friends, finally meeting people perhaps only ‘spoken’ with via the internet, and talking and chatting to like-minded people – the mingling.

Bunny came too. He was happy staying in my room and reading.

Bunny came too. He was happy staying in my room and reading.

This was the first RNA conference I had attended for several years and had learned through experience not to attend every talk and workshop I could in the hope to glean and gather as much help and information on the rocky road to be being published. That’s something we all do as an aspiring writer when we first begin but that had always proved far too exhausting. One finds after a few hours, the body and the mind sags, the brain goes into shutdown through overload and you come away often more confused than when you started; so this year I paced myself, giving many of the talks a miss, particularly the first one after breakfast and lunch.

Thanks to the beautiful weather we were blessed with all weekend, I took myself off for long walks around the campus during this time, finding beautifully kept flowerbeds and lawns and quiet areas, a large lake with weeping willows and gliding ducks, fields of sheep, a game of cricket in progress, and a chatty, friendly man who told me lots about the work the university does.

I’d also noticed a step gear change in the RNA this year, something I was surprised by. Listening to the speakers at the talks I attended, there was definitely an undercurrent of unrest amongst the committee members which centred on self-publishing. This was evident in the fact that Amazon Kindle sponsored the drinks parties, many of the talks were geared towards being self-published and how to get your books into book shops, and a talk given by an editing company clearly touting for business from authors looking to self-publish. These seemed at odds against the recent vote taken within the RNA whether or not to allow self-published authors membership, which had resulted in a ‘no’.

It was all a little disheartening really. I came away without the usual buzz of excitement, with no inspiration or eagerness or that compelling draw to the wordprocessor to write that usually follows these events. The only positive I gained was attending Tricia’s Yoga for Writers workshop as the final event of the weekend. She has such a calming voice, is an excellent teacher and the many exercising and techniques we did left me feeling refreshed, relaxed and calm after what was a busy, noisy, weekend. I will certainly continue her regime.North Wilts chap at RNA Con 2014

We enjoyed ourselves, there’s no doubt about that, and came away loaded with books and treats in the goodie bags given to everyone. After a leisurely, trouble free drive we arrived home safely, if tired. I’m glad Tricia encouraged me to go with her. Will we do next year’s? I’ll think about it.

12 responses to “RNA Conference July 2014

  1. Your pace sounds like just the thing for me. I rarely go to conferences but the ones I have gone to I’ve enjoyed. Would have loved to join you and Tricia.

    The book world is changing. Both for authors and publishers and I imagine agents as well.

    • Perhaps one day, Lavada. The book world has changed on all fronts yet many still strive for that elusive book deal and contract without realising just how much hard work it is.

  2. I’m so glad you went to the conference again. After a few years of attending our local one, I’ve taken the last couple off and am still debating about this year. I don’t feel I socialize well, so networking is tough for me. I like your idea to not worry about hitting a workshop each hour. Just relax and enjoy. I also forgot all about Tricia’s yoga book. Got it, haven’t read it, need to. So thanks for the reminder. You both look fabulous!

    • Thanks, Laurie. I’m never happy with what I wear and hate clothes shopping. I too find socialising hard work as I’m not a great conversationalist with strangers but always found most people in the book world, authors especially, are very friendly and always helpful. Do read Tricia’s yoga book – she gives some great advice and tips there. 🙂

  3. I’m glad you had some down time at the conference. I always have to escape the crowds and not overload on info. I usually room alone so I can have that quiet time away from people, noise and even the tv.

    Sorry you didn’t get inspired and there seemed to be mixed messages within the organization – I’m happy you and Tricia had some good times, though.

  4. I’m so pleased I managed to twist your arm, Kit! It really wouldn’t have been the same without you there. Despite being a trifle disheartening at times, the conference was certainly enjoyable. And I agree about the rooms…a lovely surprise, although could have done without that wafting scent from our piggy friends 🙂 Thank you for the kind words about my driving and the workshop – so pleased you enjoyed it. Oh, and I hadn’t realised Bunny was there. I would have popped in and said hello!

    • Glad you did, Tricia. It was fun. Bunny always comes a travelling with me – he’s got two excursions coming up soon so he’s one happy bunny – as am I. 🙂

  5. Valerie J. Patterson

    What a great thing to be able to travel together! I imagine you have become fast friends and that your writing brought you together is a double blessing! Would have loved to have taken Tricia’s yoga class. Have been wanting to give it a try for a while, but have not found a class close to home to join. 😛

    • Was a shared loved of writing and reading Nora Roberts that first brought Tricia and I together. Do try Tricia’s yoga book – they are all simple stretches and relaxation techniques you can do sitting in your chair after a session on the computer – class not needed. 🙂

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