Chicago Spring Fling 2012

On the Spring Fling Conference, Erotica, and Being Awkward

First off I should say that I love conferences. I love conferences the way that I love gift baskets. You get all these little surprises and trinkets. Except a conference isn’t wrapped in cellophane….although….after attending a workshop called Erotica For Beginners, I’m pretty sure several of the ladies here have cellophane wrap in their rooms. And giant plastic arms for ‘fisting’.  

God, I hope my mom and mother-in-law don’t read this.


Not that there’s anything wrong with fisting, if that’s your thing.


Oh god! Someone stop me from talking about fisting! I can’t handle it! I can’t handle even IMAGINING it! It makes me do this:




Where was I?

Ah, yes. Fisting. I mean CONFERENCES! Conferences. I love conferences. I’m also supremely bad at them. I like to think of myself as a well-adjusted, likeable person. I can walk in to a room of strangers and give a lecture or a collaborative exercise to write bad poetry. I can read to a room filled with hungry zombies about brain recipes or something, and I’m fine.


But stick me in a room with 200 other women writers and I suddenly freeze. Pure panic.


Suddenly, I was thrust head-first into all my phobias about making friends and not being cool enough for the cool clique and all those unnavigable (is that a word?) rules for making friends: don’t seem desperate, ask questions, if you’re shy they’ll think you’re a bitch, look busy but open…blah blah blah. The truth is, I don’t know how to talk to women. Actually, I’m pretty awful talking to anyone. I’m just plain AWKWARD. I wish I could wear a tshirt that says “Don’t take anything I say personally. I’m just awkward.”


Still….I’m managing to do it, and the women here are really nice and everyone’s trying to figure out the same thing: how to get their work out there.


It amazes me how many writers there are. Some women here haven’t finished a book yet, and they’re here and I just think “Wow. How cool is that? They’re so brave!” Others are relaxed and open. Others are just as awkward as me.


At dinner last night I told the table that yes, I’m published, but it’s just romantic comedies and one is self-published and the other two are put out by just a small press. One of the women looked at me wide-eyed and said “But you’re published?”

“Yeah, I guess.” I said.

“You have books and stuff?”

“Yeah. They’re here. I’ll be at the signing.”

“Then why are you apologizing? This is GREAT! You are published! You should be telling us to get our asses to the signing and buy your books!”

That made me cry a little bit, and it made me like her instantly. I’ve felt a little pummeled lately with writing. I feel like I have to qualify it wherever I go. It still hurts that my writing isn’t really taken seriously (nod to my alma mater who told me I couldn’t give a reading there because my type of writing doesn’t offer anything to their students). And I feel like I’m constantly having to convince people that “Yes. I’m a real writer, even though it’s not literary fiction. It’s quirky fiction. That doesn’t mean shit fiction.”

So I guess what I’m taking from this so far is a bag full of swag, talking awkwardly with some really wonderful and brave writers who are just like me (working moms trying to balance everything), the idea that I should be proud of my work…and some really fascinating information I learned in the Erotica for Beginners presentation. Tiffany Reisz did scare me a little bit, but also convinced me that I could read her book on my Kindle AND NO ONE WOULD KNOW. It could be our little secret.


I may never, ever write erotica, but I could certainly read up on it. You know, for research. Yep. Research.*

*Except that fisting thing. I’m still terrified about that. There are some things I’m just better off NOT knowing. That’s one of them.