The past few days, I’ve been trying to get my clothes together for the Romance Writers of America conference, which will be in Anaheim next week.
Now, a lot of writers find the conference grueling or exhausting, but I love it. It IS exhausting, but only because I stay up late talking to my friends and talking about writing and dancing at the infamous Harlequin party. My roommate is one of my best friends in the world and I don’t get to actually SEE her very often, so we have a billion things to catch up on. I also have a big group of friends—what Susan Elizabeth Phillips calls our ‘graduating class,’—that I can’t wait to have coffee with, hear the news, trade stories with. Many of us have been friends for 10, 20, even in some cases, 30 years. Our touchstone is that conference each year.
The trouble is what to pack. Clothes present an…er…interesting problem for me, aside from the usual panic over whether I look fat in something or if the tone is right or, well, all those things.
My problem is that my closet is STUFFED with clothes that really don’t belong to me. There are the shirtwaists Ramona from How To Bake A Perfect Life would wear, and the simple linen slacks that Elsa from Garden of Happy Endings likes (she would be an Eileen Fischer kind of woman). Angel, the hero of The Sleeping Night, is clever with store bought clothes, nipping and tucking to get a good fit. I lack this talent.
My closet is full of their stuff, because I have a tendency to go shopping in character. Now this might be a charming little eccentricity, except that none of them are anything like me physically. Ramona is a tall, willowy woman with very long hair. Angel is a slight, fair-skinned blonde. Elsa, from The Garden of Happy Endings, is a small, curly-headed brunette.
I am tall-ish, but hardly willowy. I’m a sturdy Irish ox with olive skin and blonde hair.
So as I go through my closet, trying things on to decide what to take with me for the booksigning and the cocktail parties and dinners with friends and two workshops I’m presenting, I have to decide which clothes are actually mine. I have bohemian tastes for the most part, bright colors and paisleys, and like Elsa, a fondness for scarves and bracelets. Mostly, if something is bright green or pink or turquoise, I can count on it being something I bought for me. If it’s brown or orange or (shudder) yellow, I know it belongs in the Goodwill pile.
It’s a funny problem, isn’t it? I wish I could say I was talented at shopping and dressing, but I’m a Colorado girl, and we tend toward Tevas and hiking capris in the summertime, jeans and boots in winter. (I suspect Claudia does not ever have this trouble—doesn’t she always seem to have a flair?)
In the end, I’ll have some dresses and a few pretty blouses in bright colors to show off my good coloring and try to downplay my tubby midsection and then, forget about it once I see readers and friends, and fall into the pleasure of the conference itself. It’s all good, right?
Do you make mistakes buying clothes? Do you have a clear idea of what your style is? What one thing makes you feel great, no matter what?
* If any of you are in the area, you really owe it to yourself to check out the MASSIVE booksigning for Literacy. More than 400 authors will be signing their books, including most of The Goddesses.