I did something very brave, last Wednesday - something that took me out of my comfort zone. So what did I do, I hear you ask - Did I skydive from 30,000 feet? Did I walk through a field of bulls? Did I sing karaoke in my local pub?
No, It was none of these things. What I did was to go to a party. Not any old party, but the RNA Winter Party. Why was this brave? Let me make you a list.
- I don't like parties
- I don't like talking for long periods (I like dancing)
- I don't like London
- I don't like tube trains
- I've nothing to wear
Why then did I decide to do it? Well, it all started with a pair of shoes - not my shoes, I'd like to point out, but a lovely pair that writer Sue Moorcroft had talked about on Facebook.
"I love them but where would I ever wear shoes like that?" I asked.
"To the RNA Winter Party," she replied.
"But I'm not a member."
"You don't have to be."
"But I don't write romantic novels!"
"No, but you write romance."
And the seed was sown. I couldn't let the chance to meet up with so many on-line friends pass me by, so I made up my mind to go.
Luckily, RNA member Deirdre Palmer (from The Write Romantics) said I could go with her. She also said we could go by bus from Victoria station which eliminated problem four so I moved swiftly on to problem five - what to wear. I have three dresses. I don't wear them very often and when I tried them on one was tight, one was very tight and the third one is best not spoken of. I opted for the first and hoped I could get away with standing with my back against a wall. I then made the mistake of deciding it would be a great idea to wear these shoes for three hours!
Once I'd decided on my outfit, other doubts started to surface. What was I going to talk about for three hours? What if people found me boring? What if I caught them staring over my shoulder in the hope that someone else more interesting had come in? What if they asked me to name ten romantic novels starting with the letter J? The answer was clear - I would have to find a pillar to stand behind.
... only nobody told me there weren't any!
So, what did I think of my first RNA party?
To begin with, I felt like I was participating in some sort of party game. Everyone wandered round the room looking at each others stomachs (where the name badges round our neck seemed to hang) and when the music stopped we talked to the person nearest to us. Well, all right, I exaggerate, but you get the idea. When you have a room full of people you are dying to meet, most of whom you have only ever seen in a small Facebook picture and you have no glasses with you, it can all get a bit excitable. Speed dating would seem a doddle in comparison!
And the verdict... I had a great time!
I got people mixed up, I called others by the wrong name, I asked well-known people what they did and I put my foot in it a few times (and then got a blister on it).
But as well as this, I talked to some lovely, interesting people, the time went by in a flash and I came away having made many new friends (here I am with Talli Roland, Natalie Kleinman and Elaine Roberts.
So, would I go again? Absolutely!