There's one thing that I can always say about hanging out with other writers: It makes me want to write more. It makes me want to write more and better, and get my stuff out there for people to see.
It' s an odd mix of awe and trepidation, at least for me, to be talking with published writers. I don't know what it is about my personal makeup, whether it's my Catholic upbringing or generally low self-esteem, but I always assume people have better things to do. I've gotten better about it, but at the Madison Bouchercon I was a complete mess, being that over-talking hyper-excited star-struck guy that fawned over mid-list authors that I'm sure would have been flattered if I hadn't seemed crazy. Usually what I was faced with was the look that starts with narrowed eyes and moves to contracted brows and causes people to end their comments with ellipses and question marks.
The over-arching enthusiasm had abated by the time I got to Malice Domestic the next year, but I had gone by myself, without really an agenda, and spent a lot of my time wandering around. My good friend Charles Benoit was there and had a few drinks with me, and I actually got off my butt and did some meeting. But I felt like there were two groups of people at that conference: the great fans of traditional/cozy mysteries, and the authors. And I didn't fit with either one of them. I don't think any lasting friendships came specifically out of that conference, but I did get to meet some great writers.
Then came Baltimore. I was much more confident this time around. I had a general plan. I knew there were certain authors I wanted to catch up with, including friends from previous conferences. I made sure to be out of my room, and seen around the conference. To that end, I volunteered in the Hospitality Suite and was in the bar every night. I made it a point to contact NY Times best-selling author Harlan Coben ahead of time and arrange an interview with him about a December 19 showing of the film TELL NO ONE, based on his novel. Not only was this a goal for me to shoot for, but it helped my general confidence not only in dealing with new people, but also in asserting myself for my own goals. I shook hands with, and smiled at, a lot of people last weekend, and I felt a bit more like I belonged.
This may actually seem like putting the cart before the horse, since I haven't finished the book yet, let alone sent it out, but it's actually helped my motivation, as I have not only gotten back to work on the novel, but have also started a short story with the same character. Things are looking up creatively, and so I go forward.