I've barely shaken the road dust off from the Writer's Digest conference in Los Angeles (plus workshop in Hollywood sponsored by my buds at Kleis TV) and I'm zooming around packing for this weekend's Florida Writer's Association conference in Orlando.
There are few things more boring to read than somebody's postmortem of a conference, unless it's somebody's thinly-veiled promo about getting ready to speak at a conference. The thing is, all conferences want their speakers to shamelessly, tirelessly, and relentlessly flog the conference for months in advance, using every possible orifice of social media, and afterward try to make people regretful if they didn't go, because it was so much FUN, so that hopefully they won't miss it next time.
Oh, baby. As I used to say to the able-bodied panhandlers in San Francisco, "No can do." (Eventually I was driven to say, "Get off your ass.")
As a veteran author and conference presenter, one would think there is no rope I don't know. However, even I learn things, every time. And they're never what I expect to learn.
I think my best insight from Los Angeles happened in the hotel bar.
So this is the Century Plaza, which is the kind of hotel you always hope they'll put you up in. (Thank you, WD!) (In spite of numerous pleading telegrams from my agent, the hotel is paying me nothing to write nice things about it in this popular blog.) And there's this luxurious big cocktail lounge in the lobby, smack in the middle of everything. You have to pass by it to get from the main doors to the reception desk, then pass it again to get to the correct elevator.
And the night we get in, the bar is packed and noisy. I see well-known faces I'm supposed to walk up to and greet—"Oh, hi, so good to see you again, oh yeah, my thing's at 3 tomorrow, when's yours, oh yeah, how cool, you and I are just so cool and having so much fun!"—which is actually the last thing I want to do. I skillfully avoid them and explore, and find that there's a huge part of the bar outside, beyond some glass doors. A place that's quiet, dark, and dramatic, with stone decking and columns of warming flames shooting up in the chilly night air, and servers right handy to bring you a martini and some restorative bar food.
Why isn't anybody out here, instead of cramming up indoors?
That question hovered in the back of my mind for days before the answer burst upon me: The hotel bar is a place to be seen.
If you're someone who might possibly be recognized, perfect; otherwise you're hanging out nearby people who might be recognized, and a little of that sparkle somehow floats over on you. Moreover, this is Los Angeles, nexus of see-and-be-seen culture. You need the relatively brightly lit lobby bar for maximum exposure and ego-gratification.
If that appeals to you, that's the strategy.
No? Then join me wherever it's quiet and off the beaten path.
[Photo note: The many balconies of the Century Plaza, shot by ES.]
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