July 13th, 2009 by Alison Kent
A single room will do

(Updated to add: I’ve posted my first LB&LI workshop.)

This is going to be a quiet week in my corner of the blogging / Twittering / emailing world (though probably not so much on Twitter with all the live Tweeting events) as writer friends head off to DC for the RWA National Conference. (And for the record, can I say how much calling the conference “Nationals” bugs me? This is not some UIL sporting event. It’s the RWA National Conference. Even says so on the Website.) That said, for those of us staying home, this is the week of the fabulous (and FREE) Left Behind & Loving It workshop series, the brainchild of GenReality’s own Lynn Viehl. Today Lynn is talking about Conceptual Planning, Construction, and Development and at the end of her post, she links to other participating blogs. I was telling Lynn yesterday that I have five workshops started, but I’ve been so focused on writing the last few weeks, that I don’t have any of them completed. I hope to get them posted, and I’ll give Lynn the links to share if I do. I’ve been so busy writing, in fact, that I didn’t even have a blog topic for today until I woke up this morning thinking about something I’d read on my Blackberry just before going to bed last night. It was a link I followed from Twitter to a blog post on Top 10 Tips for Enjoying RWA. I was tooling along enjoying the tips until I got to #6:

6 Leave husband and children at home. Babies too

This is a conference for writers. Period.

Anyone who’s seen me at a conference the last twelve years (except in DC 2000) knows that my husband comes with me. In 2000, I roomed with a good friend of mine who had been my roommate for all but a couple of the conferences I attended between 1991 (my first, as an unpublished author) and 1996 (my soon-to-be-husband’s first; we married in 1997). That year was a case of being newly in love and unable to bear being apart for a week. Plus, I wanted my writing friends to meet him, and vice versa. We had a great time that year; Harlequin’s party was held at Universal Studios in Orlando (is that right?). We had an even better time in Chicago in 1999, walking the Miracle Mile and looking at all the cows, and in Denver in 2002 where we stayed at the Hotel Monaco and walked back and forth to the Adam’s Mark. That year, he went kayaking with my Harlequin editor and several authors while I networked gossiped with friends.

Yes, my husband goes with me to have a mini-vacation, doing touristy things, seeing sights, etc., But the main reason my husband goes with me is that he’s my career partner. He’s invested from the ground up and has been since I sent him a copy of my first Harlequin to read in 1996. I’m not the only author to have a supportive spouse. I know that. And I can’t imagine how authors who don’t have their spouse at their back manage. I know I couldn’t. He’s the one who cooks and cleans and grocery shops when I’m on deadline. And does so without grumbling or needing to be asked. I still do the laundry. Laundry’s just not his thing, though he’s certainly capable. The kitchen, however, is his domain. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg of the things he does for me. He’s even been known to sleep on the couch so as not to disturb me when I’ve finally crashed after a long day of writing and the insomnia that follows. He’s brought sandwiches and smoothies to the backyard where I’m writing so I don’t have to stop the flow to make lunch or a snack. He bought me a bluetooth keyboard for my Blackberry so I can write anywhere. He stands in line at the post office to mail my blog prizes.

He is my plotting partner. He does not critique, though occasionally I will ask him to read a scene. But when it comes to plotting, he’s the muse who pulls my books together. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said, “We’ve got to go to dinner and talk,” and he knows right away it’s not about family or financial issues or even for fun, but that I need to hash out a story. Recently I needed a motivation for a character to have conflict with another, and he pulled the rabbit out of his magic hat on the spot. He does that for me. I don’t know how, but he does it every time. A couple of summers ago I was finishing one book so was pondering another, and mentioned needing a backstory element that could be carried through, a sort of mystery to be solved. And voila! Standing there in the backyard between me and the trampoline, he found it. I talk to him about publishing houses, about sub-genres, about the market, about editors.

And this is why I love having him at conference. He goes to the workshops. Not the same ones I go to, but ones that interest him. See, he’s a story guy. We’ve been known to sit in movies and whisper to each other, “Ordinary world,” followed by, “Inciting incident,” and then, “Call to adventure.” Just this morning, in fact, he told me about a Website he discovered last night through called TvTropes that is a compendium of, well, TV tropes, story elements, etc., that we all recognize but some of us who make our living in fiction like to put a name to. Conferences spent with my husband are the best. Yes, I love to hang out with the girls and talk, and we do, and he’s been known to butt in and make sure the overworked server in the sports bar doesn’t forget our table (which he did in Dallas when I was huddled up with HelenKay Dimon and Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler and Maya Banks and Amie Stuart and others I know I’m forgetting). And he’s stood in line at Starbucks to order while I’ve sat chatting with HelenKay and Nancy Warren, and he’s talked up Stargate with Crissy Brashear and Angie James. But the best part of having him at conferences is the end of the day when we unwind and cuddle up and talk about the day, his impressions, my questions, his thoughts, my decisions, and the impact of everything we’ve learned on my career because he’s as invested as I am.

So, no. Sorry. I won’t be leaving my husband at home.

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13 comments to “A single room will do”

  1. JT Ellison
     · July 13th, 2009 at 11:46 am · Link

    Alison, you’ve just described my home and conference life as well. I hate going to conferences without my husband. Yes, I can still have fun, but it feels like half of me is missing. We are blessed, I know that too. A lot of writers’ spouses don’t give a damn, or are jealous of the success, and can make life miserable. And of course, some writers need the alone time a conference can provide. That’s just not the kind of loneliness I crave.

    But I’ll never forget trying to work out a really expensive dinner arrangement and having a fellow writer spitting the sentence, “Then leave him at home. I never bring my husband to work events,” and me thinking well, maybe you should, you might not be so grumpy.

  2. Jennifer J.
     · July 13th, 2009 at 11:51 am · Link

    I think that it’s great that your hubby goes with you to conferences and is so supportive of your career. If I had to go to a conference, I’d want my S.O. with me, just because she’s my best friend and sounding board. Plus, I think it would be great to just get away from home and meet people. You never know who you’ll become friends with.

  3. Alison Kent
     · July 13th, 2009 at 1:29 pm · Link

    Yes, exactly, half of me is missing, and being alone with him is my idea of quiet time! Love that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  4. Alison Kent
     · July 13th, 2009 at 1:29 pm · Link

    My husband is definitely my best friend and sounding board, and having him there instead of on a long distance call is SO much better!

  5. Evangeline
     · July 13th, 2009 at 7:49 pm · Link

    That’s so awesome Alison–and you know what? Real.

    Take that to the critics who claim romance writers and readers are frustrated, bored and neglected housewives!! Your story is why the genre is so powerful and relevant to life. I hope to marry a guy who is as invested in my career as I am in his.

  6. Carrie Vaughn
     · July 13th, 2009 at 7:53 pm · Link

    That’s so awesome! And that’s what I hope to find in an S.O. someday…

  7. Alison Kent
     · July 13th, 2009 at 9:03 pm · Link

    It really makes all the difference, and I say this having seen other authors that, though married, are on their own when it comes to career planning except for critique partners and agents. To me, it’s no different than a wife discussing with her husband his career choices and how they impact the family.

  8. Alison Kent
     · July 13th, 2009 at 9:03 pm · Link

    Put it at the top of your requirement list. 😉

  9. Charlene Teglia
     · July 13th, 2009 at 9:04 pm · Link

    My husband is my partner, too. I’ve untangled countless plots with him, and he’s given technical assistance on all kinds of fictional scenarios, from how to jump a motorcycle off a moving trailer into traffic to the right caliber bullet to shoot a werewolf.

  10. Alison Kent
     · July 13th, 2009 at 9:08 pm · Link

    My husband does tech advising for other authors, too. He has a small part in a recent book as an ex NSA agent, LOL!

  11. Melissa Blue
     · July 14th, 2009 at 2:19 pm · Link

    I find that piece of advice interesting. Most of the woman I’ve met/known who bring their S.O. with them didn’t find it distracting. Nor did I find it unprofessional. They are your support system. They are just as invested. If they are interested in writing or stories I don’t see the downside.

    Also, I never looked at the conference as a purely business standpoint. There’s just too much free time in between professional get-togethers, workshops, and publishing parties to take the event so seriously. Networking is much more than talking shop all day.

  12. Alison Kent
     · July 14th, 2009 at 3:06 pm · Link

    My husband was actually a member of RWA for a couple of years, as he does do some writing, so he got a lot out of it at the time.

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