The global pandemic changed so many aspects of our lives that I don’t know of any area it didn’t touch in some way. In the aftermath, I don’t feel life will ever feel the same but we’ll adapt.
As more people get vaccinated, and the science behind the medicine continues to evolve, I think we’ll slowly start to see life return to some semblance of normal.
For me, one of the most highly anticipated events is conference time but a deadly virus made congregating in large groups a bad idea so all conferences for the past two years either shut down or went virtual.
To be honest, I had my doubts about a virtual conference. There’s something about networking in person that cannot be understated or replicated, but we did the best that we could with what we had to work with.
After my first virtual RAM (Romance Author Mastermind) conference, I was pleasantly shocked at how wonderful it was and I didn’t actually miss much. If anything, I got more out of the conference than if I was actually in a hotel, going from workshop to workshop.
Even though I didn’t get to network face-to-face, I was able to really sink into the workshops in a way that would’ve been way too distracting if I’d been in the room with all of the people.
As an extrovert, people are my crack. Sprinkle in a fair amount of ADHD and you’ve got a girl who’s zipping from one person to the next, chasing dopamine but not paying much attention to the speaker.
A speaker, I might add, I paid a lot of money to listen to.
Fast forward to today and the second virtual RAM conference is days away. I am so excited to soak up the knowledge, attend multiple workshops, and “network” via Zoom. Perusing the list of workshops for each day tickles my stomach as I prepare to learn new techniques, approach marketing from a different angle, and chat with fellow writers about the business of making up stuff for a living.
I also can’t discount the value of sitting in my bed, munching on popcorn while “attending” a workshop, content to be in my pajamas with my hair in a messy bun (with my camera turned off, of course) while scribbling away in my notebook.
However, there is one significant drawback to being home while “at conference.” If you’re a mom, you already know what I’m going to say — my household struggles with the concept of me being unavailable.
Especially if your household is like mine and mom is the glue that holds everything together so it doesn’t collapse beneath the confused chorus of, “Mom! What’s for dinner? Did you Instacart groceries? How do I work the washing machine? Where are my shoes?”
I’ve already warned my people that I won’t be available but we’ll see how well they remember that warning. A few of my writer friends (who are smarter than me with fatter bank accounts) have already checked into their hotel with their laptops and notebooks in hand because they aren’t taking the chance of being bothered.
Maybe next year that’ll be me.
Then again, with some luck, next year’s conference will return to in-person and I’ll actually be in Texas or wherever the conference ends up.
It very well could happen.
I’ve already caught word that another conference I usually attend in February, is gearing up for an in-person event in San Francisco and my gleeful little heart is giddy.
True story, I was so hungry to attend a conference, for a split second I considered going to NINC in Florida, which says a lot because I don’t enjoy Florida at all (too many alligators and humidity). Although, many of my peers attended and said it was fantastic so maybe, one of these days I will have to swallow my distaste for the sunshine state and give it a go.
In the meantime, here I sit, virtually prepared with my notebook in hand, a sign on the door that says, “Warning, Author At Conference,” and a brain ready to learn.
Wish me luck!
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.