There is a unique blend of happy and sad that accompanies the end of the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference. For a brief few days, every year, our tribe of Romance Writers gathers in a city hotel, and so commences an intense time of learning, networking, and arguably most-essentially, socialising with our favourite, like-minded writers. Be they aspiring, emerging or established, RWA is a place to simple *be*, in a state of open-minded brain-expansion, assimilating new ways of thinking, working, and managing our writing careers.
From informal dinners on Wednesday night to publisher commitments on Thursday, to the amazing, in-depth all-day workshops on Friday (Rachel Bailey should be required attendance at any and all conferences – she is a font of creative wisdom and has an almost-freakish ability to break things down and explain them in a way that leads to many, many lightbulb moments). Then, there’s the Harlequin cocktail party, always a fun time to let our hair down and mingle, before the core conference kicks off in earnest. The dinner on Saturday is a combination of fine dining, fun, great wine (Moet this year, thank you very much) and it is a time to raise a glass to the award nominees and recipients, and honour their achievements. Not to mention Keri Arthur’s spine-tingling STAND UP, which is a reminder that we all form a valuable thread of this evolving community.
And we are a community – a thriving, growing, ever-changing community filled with brilliance and generosity of spirit and so, so much love. Which is why I’m feeling a hint of melancholy as I sit here, in the airport, waiting for my flight to board. As a die-hard homebody and committed introvert, I am desperate to get home to my normal routines and rhythms, and to see my lovely little family. I’m also inspired and reinvigorated, champing at the bit to hit my keyboard and write all the stories and ideas that have flooded me over the last few days. But there is also sadness here, at leaving behind this crew for another year. Our days together are too short, and very special, and I’m already counting down to 2019.