Monday, 24 November 2014

I Went to the RNA Winter Party - Well Done Me!


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!
 


36 comments:

  1. I can relate to the shoes and dress scenario (I've had to give up high heels) but I know there would never be a problem talking to writers for three hours. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  2. That sounds like fun, Wendy - well done you for 'going for it' even though you had doubts! This is why I watch 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' (bear with me...!). Some of the people in it are complete wimps, like I'd be, but many of them are shown conquering their fears and you can just see their self-esteem increasing. It's inspiring! Always makes me want to do something out of my comfort zone too ,..for a little while, anyway!

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    1. Luckily we got to eat canapés rather than witchetty grubs, Helen ( I wouldn't last five minutes in the jungle).

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  3. Good for you, Wendy! Always a bit nerve racking when you go to an event for the first time, but it's much easier when you have a friend to go with. I'm not a party animal either but you made it sound like good fun. Perhaps I'll make the long journey down from N Wales next year! Glad you had a good time.

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    1. It would be great to meet you if you did, Sue - but it's a long way!

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  4. Well you were still smiling when we finally got together near the end of the party, Wendy. A genuine smile, not a grimace. I suspect there were lots of us, though maybe not all would admit it, who had the shoe problem. In spite of travelling to and from the party in boots I still suffered later from a hurty little toe. Such a temptation to wear them though. I know we decided not to focus on shoes any more but I have to say that I think the prize for the highest and maybe also the sparkliest went to Pia. No idea how she managed to walk in them! Roll on the summer party.

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    1. I didn't know there was a 'don't focus on shoes' decision! What a shame I didn't see Pia's. Lovely to see you there.

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  5. It was lovely to see you again, Wendy, and I hope you'll come to future RNA parties too! Did you meet Liz Smith (My Weekly fiction ed) - I enjoyed chatting to her even though it's ages since I sent her any stories.

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    1. I am now a party animal, Kath! And yes, I did meet Liz - it was me who took you over to her!

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  6. Isn't it funny, Wendy, we former teachers are so uncomfortable in social situations, and yet that's what we did on a daily basis, socialise with other teachers and children. I am so pleased you had a good time Wendy. Taking a deep breath and jumping in blind, is sometimes the best thing to do. I met a few RNA members when I dived into my first ever writing course and they were absolutely lovely! Good for you, Wendy.

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    1. Children are much less scary than big people, Nicola.

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  7. Knew you'd have fun once you got there. Did you need a step ladder to get into the shoes?
    And I'm going to challenge 'I don't like talking for long periods' - tell that to the staff at Cobblestones' tearooms!
    Looking forward to hearing all about this + pics next week.

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    1. I gave one or two amusing anecdotes, Tracy. Will tell all over Teacakes next week.

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    2. Bet you're glad you overcame your fears. Sounds a bit like musical chairs without the chairs! I would have gone in boots and changed into sparkly ballet pumps. Comfort rules with age!

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    3. I did wear flat boots for the journey, Maggie (thank goodness!)

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  8. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I should probably get out more myself ...

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  9. I'm fairly sociable once I get going, but if I'm invited somewhere new my first thought is always: 'What shall I wear?' Must be a girl thing. Congrats on walking in those shoes!

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    1. this clothes issue is stressful isn't it, Julia - much easier for the men.

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  10. Glad you enjoyed it, Wendy. I'm also not a party go-er, but I went to an award ceremony earlier in the year with the RNA, as I was on a shortlist. It was great to meet people in real life, who we talk to on blogs, etc. And it was good fun to meet editors and publishers as well. Which reminds me, I should be writing. Well done to you, and love those shoes.

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    1. Thanks, Susan and, yes, it is lovely to meet people in 'the real world'.

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  11. Well done you indeed! Thanks for sharing your fears (I'm sure many of us share some of them), and so glad you had a lovely time at the party.

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    1. I know I'm not the only one, Jen but sometimes you can't help feeling like you are!

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  12. Well done, Wendy - I've been to a couple of the conferences but never to a party. And I feel the same about the tube, what to wear, and having to to talk too long! But everyone is always so friendly that time passes quickly.

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    1. One day, we might meet up at one, Rosemary.

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  13. Well done Wendy. It's good to move out of your comfort zone - makes you feel great. Well I expect it would! I'm not big on doing that - oh except I started playing table tennis in a new club and it's doubles (I've always played singles) only knew one person and I seem to be playing as if I've never played before ever in my life (hangs head in shame) Hopefully things can only get better and I do have to say they're a lovely bunch. Ah well - must be a story in there somewhere eh! :-) x

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    1. Sounds like my badminton club, Sue. I'm pretty erratic, playing OK one evening and rubbish the next, but everyone is so lovely I don't care!

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  14. Well done you! I'm going to a scary literary event next weekend (a book launch). I nearly chickened out when I got the invitation, thinking of all the things that might go wrong, but I'm sure that, like you, I'll enjoy it once I'm there.

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  15. Well done you! Didn't know you could go if you weren't a member or an novelist (since I'm neither!!) Glad you had a good time.xx

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    1. No, I only just found out. You pay a few pounds more for the ticket.

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  16. I can't lie, I laughed a lot reading this post! I would have had the same worries and doubts and may have even talked myself out of going! Well done for moving outside of your comfort zone - it's great once you've done it isn't it? Glad you came away having met new friends, and of course, having had a good time!

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    1. I usually like to keep well and truly in my comfort zone, so I'm very eased I made the effort.

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  17. Glad you enjoyed the party in the end, Wendy. Well done you for facing your fears. :-) I'm going to a literary event tomorrow so I'll let you know how I get on!

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