Thursday, July 20, 2006

Always Wear A…

I almost forgot about promising to tell my embarrassing National story. Thanks to Blogging National for being intrigued and mentioning it so that I saw it this morning.

Okay. It was my first National, 2000, Washington, D.C. We’re going back there in a few years, so take note: the Marriott Wardman Park hotel is weird.

There are three towers, and even being there for five days, I never figured out how the room numbering went. It’s VERY VERY important to know what tower your room number is in.

My friend Ginny Aiken had offered to help me with my pitch—very first pitch, very first time meeting an editor face-to-face, very first big conference. I was very nervous. Also, I don’t have a good bathtub at home.

So I was soaking in the tub late Thursday night, trying to write my pitch, when Ginny called me back and said she could help me. I interpreted her room number to mean she was in my tower, on my floor, and said I’d meet her by the flowers in the little conversation grouping by the elevator. I threw on a T-shirt and shorts and went out to meet her.

She wasn’t there. I realized I hadn’t specified which floor—ground level or our floor. So I went down. She wasn’t there. I went back up. Looked at the room numbers on the range cards (you know, the ones that say these rooms to the left, these rooms to the right) and realized her number was not part of the range. She wasn’t in my tower. So she was probably on the other side of the hotel.

No biggie. It was nearly midnight. The hotel would be quiet, right? I wouldn’t run into anyone.

All of you who have been to National are now laughing so hard you can’t see the screen. But remember, this was my FIRST big conference, and it was still early Internet days. There weren’t dozens of people blogging about the way things work.

The Wardman Park has a lobby bar. That means right next to the registration desk is a massive area of tables and chairs, jam-packed with authors and industry professionals. And here’s me, walking around in my T-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

Did I mention I wasn’t wearing a bra?

I’d been intending to just be right outside my room, hunched over a pad. No one would notice. But now I’m crossing the massive lobby, passing by dozens if not a couple hundred people, back and forth from one tower to another, trying to find my friend.

But it gets worse.

I got into one of the tower elevators, and standing there at the back is…

Ashley Grayson.

Of the then Grayson and Grayson Literary Agency.

And I’m not wearing a bra.

I didn’t have my nametag on, of course, and I kept my head down, but he saw my pad and pen and asked if I was with RWA. So we chatted about the conference and how it was going so far, as I tried to strategically but casually hold my pad in front of my chest.

I never submitted to Grayson.

So, some things learned as a result of my misadventure:

1. At RWA's National Conference, people are up and around ALL THE TIME.

2. Editors and agents can be anywhere at any time.

3. Most importantly (and most ridiculously)...Always wear a bra.

P.S. I found my friend, we perfected my pitch, and it went fine, getting a request that was rejected eight months later by form letter.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Oh, I can sympathize! Yikes. Those towers were very confusing. Hope this year's Marriott is much easier!