Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Don’t Fear the FOMO

Today is the first full day of ThrillerFest, the annual New York conference hosted by ITW, International Thriller Writers.  ThrillerFest is home turf for me.  It’s where I found my agent, and where I originally met at least a dozen wonderful friends.

And for the first time in five years, I’m not there.

With my family’s support, I decided to take 2017 off the conference circuit*.  For me, that circuit means Left Coast Crime, ThrillerFest, and BoucherCon, but for many other mystery writers it might include Malice Domestic, Romantic Times, or a host of other national and regional events.  A writer could attend one conference a month, easily, without ever leaving the contiguous forty-eight.  Don’t get me started on the number of cool gatherings in Europe.  Someday, Bloody Scotland, someday…

You can probably guess the major reasons for my sabbatical:  Saving money (or more accurately, not adding to our overburdened credit cards), saving vacation time, allowing me more days with family.  All true.  Plus: more hours and energy to concentrate on my fourth book, a standalone thriller which, at the time of this post, is kicking my ass.  I write best when a little challenged (read: scared) and this is damn challenging.  I like what I’ve got on the page, but there are miles to go.   

Taking time for myself was the right decision.  Still… Dang it.

Conventions are fun.  Hugely fun, especially for a writer with a couple of books out.  Classes.  Cocktail parties.  Conversations.  There’s wisdom shared by keynote speakers and instructors.  There’s the camaraderie of fellow authors and those aspiring to finish or publish their first work.  Late nights and too little sleep and being hoarse from laughing.  I see some of my conference friends more often than I see friends at home. 

So it smarts a little to see the ThrillerFest posts on Facebook, and know that there are hilarious group texts flying around the ether right now with my friends trying to one-up the last quip.  Inside jokes while I’m on the outside. 

But there’s some comfort in that word while.  I’ll always be on the outside of something.  I won’t always be on the outside of everything.  I’m pretty good at long-term thinking, enough to clearly imagine the day when I’m free to attend any and all gatherings I choose, with family in tow.  And heck, maybe a couple of those conferences will even foot the bill, so long as I can think of something pithy to say in a speech.  Dream big.

For now, I’ll wish my friends a happy time and safe travels, and toast them in their absence.  And I’ll continue to use this year as best I can, which means getting done with this post and back to Book Four.  Have a grand time, you magnificent reprobates.  I’ll see you soon.


*I made a small exception in June for CCWC, California Crime Writers Conference, because it’s local to L.A. and because as a board member of Sisters in Crime I was sort of obligated to go.  It was a blast, and reminded me of what I was missing.