It’s astonishing to think it’s a year on from my first RNA Conference; time really is flying. This year’s was held at Queen Mary University of London, but unfortunately I was only able to attend the Saturday programme this time. I arrived in the cool of the morning to find these great big letters standing on the lawn in front of the main building; later I realised they had been set out for this year’s crop of graduates to use as photo props, which I thought was a great idea. Maybe the RNA could try it next year, and I could drape myself elegantly against the slope of ‘R’ or perch on the bar of ‘A’?
I attended a range of talks; some were personal reflections of a career in writing and books, and some were practical workshops – all in all, a good blend. Hazel Gaynor gave an excellent talk about promotion, stressing that writers should seek to engage their audience, rather than flat-out trying to sell their books; sales should emerge if readers feel engaged with the author and her work. Rowan Coleman was lovely; she has such a pretty voice I could listen to her for hours. She spoke about ‘Five Reasons Novels Fail’, the first one being they never get finished… valuable advice when things start to drag and you wonder why you started this writing lark in the first place. I’ve managed to get through sloughs by telling myself firmly I owe it to my characters to let them reach their resolution, wich seems to work for me. There was a very good workshop at the end of the day, from Liz Harris, on plotting, with a superb handout to make you really work at understanding your characters.
It was lovely, too, to catch up with some writing friends, and hear how they were doing. The current economic climate, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of ebooks, means there are problems and opportunities like never before, and it was interesting to hear how many people were moving to take more control of their careers by self-publishing. Lunch was excellent (always a plus) although there were constant calls for water jugs to be refilled as it was very hot. I could hear air-conditioning throbbing away, but it didn’t seem to make a dent in the temperature. We were fortunate, however, not to have met the previous week, when London sizzled in 95 degree heat.
I enjoyed my second conference very much, and am already looking forward to next year’s, which takes place at the University of Lancaster. Unfortunately it clashes with the Romance Author and Reader Event in Edinburgh, which takes place on the same Saturday – but I’ll have to pick the RNA conference, as I enjoy it so much.