Having just returned from RWA’s 2022 National Convention, I thought a little overview/retrospection was in order. This was the first in-person RWA Conference since the pandemic and since the change in RWA leadership and I thought some thoughts from someone who had been to both pre- and now post- pandemic conventions might be helpful for current and former members.
First, I would like to say that I was encouraged to discover so many new members, new authors who are at the beginning of their careers coming to the RWA convention. That shows me, at least, that writers of romance still see the value of the organization as a whole. This is especailly encouraging given the turmoil of the past few years and the loss of more than half the membership.
RWA is, in my opinion, a valuable asset for writers of romance who, no matter what level of writing expertise they may have achieved. The education programs offered alone are invaluable and authors who can mentor newer authors are encouraged to do so. And education, on all levels, was exemplary in the 2022 convention. There was a variety of workshops on all levels and in a range of categories that gave something to everyone who attended.
Back in February, I mentioned to my local chapter, Chesapeake Romance Writers, that the slate of workshops was still accepting proposals. I encouraged two of my board members to submit a proposal on Digital Marketing (which they ahd just given at our monthly meeting) because if we didn’t support RWA now, it might not be here in the future. They took my advice to heart and submitted their proposal and were accepted! Then I took my own advice to heart and submitted an entry level workshop on Publishing 101: What to Expect After You Sign. I remembered all the questions and all the things I didn’t know that I didn’t know when I first signed a contract for my writing, and thought this would be a great way to give back to the organization and give information to the members to hopefully make their writing lives easier. I am very happy to say that despite a large attack of nerves before my presentation, I managed to get through it with flying colors and many people came up to me afterwards and for the rest of the comference telling me they had enjoyed it and had gotten a lot of information from it.
There weren’t as many workshops as usual, but that wasn’t a problem as with the huge slate of workshops we’d had previously, I always missed a panel or workshop or two that I really wanted to see. This year I think there was only one or two times that happened.
One of the disappointing things both my friend Ella Quinn and I experienced was the lack of familiar faces. We both hope RWA will be able to woo back authors who have taken a hiatus and next year there will be additional friends for everyone to connect with.
I also must say that with one or two exceptions, the hotel, the Gaylord National Harbor, got the food right for those of us with food allergies. At the lunch buffet everything was labeled and there was a lot of gluten-free and dairy-free options, as well as vegan and vegetarian. I was pleased that the hotel provided a non-dairy alternative for coffee creamer, but was a bit disappointed that the Snack Buffet on the second day didn’t have an option that was gluten-free and dairy-free (the lunch buffet did). But overall the leadership did a good job of juggling all the possible food allergies of such a diverse group.
There was no awards ceremony this year, alas. Neither did they have a Literacy Signing nor pitch sessions with agents and editors. Whether these were concerns surrounding COVID or not, I don’t know. I only hope, as we built RWA back, that these wonderful events will return as well.
I hope, if anyone is interested in joining or renewing your RWA membership, you’ll check out the RWA website here: https://www.rwa.org/ There is always room for those who are passionate about writing romance.