I've been down in the depths of a wicked lurgy (of the sort not experienced since the great European backpacking flu of 2001) and so it might seem a little past-the-fact to be talking about the RWA conference, which finished on 18 August. But not so. Conferences, conventions and other writerly/readerly gatherings are about resonance. We go to hear things that might inspire us, vibrate those heart-strings of stories deep within. Or, to re-hear messages of craft, that once heard again strike up a familiar chord that we hear more strongly the next time we face that problem in our work. Those tunes last much longer than the few days of the gathering, and it seems, even last through 10 days of distracting illness.
RWA this year for me was a mash-up of great craft, business and information sessions. Sarah Wendell was fabulous as ever - entertaining, funny and generous, answering my question extensively after one of her sessions. I met many friends, old and new, in the business. And then there was Kim Hudson, in one of the final plenary addresses. And there, I had a high point of resonance.
Kim was addressing the question of whether fear drives us, and she drew in some fascinating insights about how our brains work in fear and love. She said, we can't live in a fear-based and a love-based world simultaneously. Fear is about pushing away - it's an either/or condition. But love is inclusive; it's about drawing in. From my scratched notes (as I hastily tried to capture what she was saying) I've written: Stories aren't just about conflict. In the love-based world, growth is feeling safe and appreciated.
Ain't that true. Romance, of whatever ilk, can cop a lot of flak. But one of it's strengths is that it's about growth that comes from searching for safety and appreciation, in a word, for a resonance of self. That's the heart of romance for me, and it's what I've realised I try to do in my romantic novels--explore characters searching for their own resonance of self, in their work, in their friends, in their mate. The resting place from the uncertainty the world is made of. We're all doing that, I think. And that can be as strong a motivator as our fears; perhaps, even stronger because it promises something, rather than simply the absence of something.
So, whatever you're doing in your life, I wish you a love-based world, and finding your resonance in it :)