In a few hours I will board a nasty regional jet and head out to New Orleans. I'll be attending a writer's conference there.
I find myself apprehensive as I prepare to leave. This whole endeavor is somewhat foreign to me.
I've never attended a conference in my life, but from what I can surmise, it's a gathering of people who do the same thing. They converge to share war stories, network, and get really, really drunk.
There are all kinds of problems with this scenario. First, I'm not really like the other people at this conference. They will be professional writes. I'm a television journalist.
Second, I'm not much of a networker. The whole act of networking feels sleazy and insincere to me. Every time I try, I feel like the other person is thinking, "this man is trying to use me... and I thought he was interested in me as a person!"
And most importantly: I don't drink. That's not to say I don't go to bars and socialize when my friends do. But there's something of a "brotherhood of drunkards" that I'm just not a member of.
So why am I going? Good question. I'm anxious to escape my comfort zone and experience new things and expand my social and professional network. So off I go. Off I go to New Orleans by myself. Off I go to the Big Easy as a prudish, teetotaling Mormon.
I'll let you know how it goes.