Monday, October 19, 2009

My First Conference

My First Conference

16 Days Before the Conference:

In less than three weeks, I will be going to my first writer’s conference. I can’t wait. I’ve been to conferences with my husband, he’s an optometrist, and may I sum up that experience with one simple consonant; “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.” But, this conference is all about me, no kids, no husband, no dishes. I will be participating in a group pitch session. I hear that ‘it’s good practice.’ I understand this to mean that pitching is a painful, yet necessary right of passage in a writer’s life. Taking this to heart, I decide not to be nervous. I doubt the agent/editor will verbally flog me if they don’t like my story. I doubt I’ll be made to sit in the corner with a dunce hat on if my stories hook isn’t catchy enough, will I?

10 Days Before the Conference:
Today my focus is on my wardrobe. I’ve been an at-home-mom for a number of years and own very little in the way of ‘business casual’ dress. What I do own is nice, but over the last couple of years, I’ve stacked on a few extra pounds. I keep meaning to correct that situation, but every time I feel the impulse to exercise, my mind overrides it with the command to lie down and read a good book. I’ve tried joining a gym, where there’s nothing to lay down on, but my car is possessed. Instead of ending up at the club, I end up at Starbucks. The one near my house is inside of a grocery store. They sell doughnuts, not a good start to a workout. As the conference approaches, I must accept that I will not lose 40 lbs. within the next 10 days. I’m going to have to work with what I’ve got. I have learned that trying on clothes in my heightened state of fluffiness is like moving. I’m trying to cram all my junk into a container that can realistically only hold half the mass. Since my clothes are not going to conform to my more voluptuous figure, I’m going to have to get a bigger container.

One Week Before the Conference:
Appropriate apparel located! I tick that off my ‘To Do’ list. Now my focus moves to preparing the family for my absence. There is some innate need to make the world completely right before I exit the house. Why is this? When I’m at home the laundry is rarely caught up. You will never find precooked meals in the frig waiting to be reheated. Why do I feel the need to clean my house? Do I think it’s going to stay that way while I’m gone? I have two 8 yr. old, human tornadoes, able to destroy a room in a single pass. I will only be gone for three days. It’s not like they’re going to starve. Even if they didn’t eat the entire time I was away, they would still be alive when I got home. Heck, even the dog knows to drink out of the toilet when the water dish is dry. Maybe I’ll thaw some hot dogs.

1 Day Before the Conference:
Prior to any trip I take, I briefly entertain the thought that I will only take carry-on luggage. As I stand looking down at my big suitcase, I throw my head back and laugh. It’s filled with items to be donated for the basket raffle. This works out well since I’m quite sure I will be winning one of the baskets; donated items out, won items in. I may as well pack an extra pair of wongie-waistbands. There is nothing like putting on stretchy pants after a long day of conferencing. I cram my tennis shoes on top. Maybe the hotel has an exercise room. I pause, who am I kidding? I toss the sneakers back in the closet. I crack myself up sometimes.

The Conference and Home:
I’ve been home for five days and the conference high is wearing off. I’m exhausted and I still haven’t unpacked. Emptying my suitcase feels like the fun is over for another year. However, I have a lot to accomplish before next year’s conference rolls around. Four things have become my mantra for the next 365 days.
1. Write, write, and write. Get the story down on paper and stop obsessing. There’s always time to edit.
2. Let my voice shine through, which will happen, if I write.
3. Don’t get lost in the time suck of email, Facebook, Twitter, and a thousand other venues. Instead, turn off the internet and write.
4. Keep my butt in the chair. The refrigerator doesn’t need to be cleaned. The silverware drawer doesn’t need to be organized. I don’t need to try on all my old makeup until the pages are written. Focus on the goal. Write.
Okay, so there might be one reoccurring theme, but it’s an important one, write the book. The conference has shown me that I am capable of writing much more than I’ve required of myself thus far. Nobody is going to write my book for me. As-a-matter-of-fact, nobody but me really cares if I ever write a book. Family members still want to eat; the school still wants me to volunteer; and the dog still wants me to walk him. Nobody cares whether I sacrifice sleep in exchange for that hour of quiet writing time.


Alexis Morgan said...

I'm so glad you had a great time at Emerald City. I did, too. I always come home exhausted and yet seriously buzzed by all the chance to network, take great classes, and kick back with friends to discuss this business that we all love.

I also enjoyed your comments on the pre-conference clothing panic as well as the compulsion to clean or cook everything in sight. :0)

I hope your writing exceeds your wildest expectations.

Alexis Morgan

Tamera Lynn said...

Haha! You had me rolling during your countdown! I'm so with you on the whole leaving the family thing. Like my floor was vacuumed for two weeks prior to leaving? And yet, for some reason, it just had to be clean before I left. Glad you took away that very important point from the conference. We all need to be reminded of that - over and over.
Tamera Lynn

Juniper Bell said...

We care if you write!!! Write, write, write!! I love everything you write, including this blog. Write!

theparrot said...

First of all, wear those elastic waist pants all day. They aren't just after conference pants anymore. The only danger is falling asleep during the lecture because they are so comfortable and let you digest that conference breakfast you couldn't resist with ease.
Secondly, make your husband thaw the hotdogs while you write. Make your kids learn how to nuke them so you can write some more. Teach the dog how to walk himself so you can write more and more and more.
Ignore that nagging voice in your head about the tell all book your children will write about you when you're old. By then you'll be rich off your novels and won't give a damn.

Jennifer Dupree said...

I loved your comparison of trying to cram yourself into your pre-weight-gain clothes like over-stuffing boxes, though I have long since given up that battle. I much prefer comfort, and believe it or not, we look better when our clothes actually fit. I do think the dog still needs to be walked, though. You never know what sort of inspiration will hit you when you are getting some fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Very funny Boone Brux. I could have kept reading all evening. I will be waiting for my signed copy.

Michele K

karen said...

The age old dilemna, zip up pants or pull on pants, carry-on or oversized suitcase, clean or hire a maid, ok well perhaps the maid is a bit over the top, depending on who you're asking.

Write, write, write....the house will take care of itself and I happen to know Grant is quite capable of thawing out the hotdogs and using a corkscrew and the kids...keep fresh fruit, veggies, single packet juices and yogurt on the bottom shelf of the fridge... and look at it this way, if you screw them up to much they'll write a book about you that is sure to be a best-seller and you're gonna end up rich anyway. Love you....keep writing!

lizzienewell said...

Thanks for sharing. Nice blog entry

Anonymous said...

Very good job my talented friend in Alaska. I think that you should attend the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa....I know where you can stay. Keep on writing......Beth

Laurie Ryan said...

I hooted when I got to number three because I came home and put all my email loops on digest to reduce my email time. What a GREAT view of what was, for me, my first ever writer's conference. And a most excellent one it was. You nailed it. Thanks for allowing me to re-visit the process!

Angelia Almos said...

Your countdown to the conference was great. Oh, the cleaning frenzy. I always say my house is cleanest just before a family member arrives or just before I am heading out of town.

Marie said...

Great blog post. The Emerald City Conference is one of the best to go to. I was sorry to miss it this year but I was tied up with family time. I'm glad you got a lot out of it.

Marie Tuhart

LizeeS said...

Too funny. But I think you lied about this being your first conference--you're just too cool and good at them already. I was such a wreck before pitching the first time. Sheesh, where was your James Bond cool when I needed it?

Fun times my dear roommate. I had a blast at your first conference too.

Tielle St. Clare said...

Love it, Boone! I wasn't nearly so funny about my first conference but I think I scared Jayne Ann Krentz by walking up and gushing "You're the reason I'm here. I want to write just like you," or some like that.

Sounds like you had a great time,

Patty Herring said...

If I didn't know better, instead of reading a blog, I could have sworn I was sitting in your living room having a conversation with you. I love that you write the way you are in real person. You are Erma Bombeck, Maude, and Lisa Lampanelli all rolled into one. Ha! Follow your dream! If for some reason writing doesn't work out, you should try stand up comedy. Your biggest fan. Patty

Livin' the dream said...

I love that I'm not the only one with a vehicle that finds it's way to Starbucks instead of the gym! I can't wait to read more! By the way, I think it's hilarious that I just wrote you an email, and in it encouraged you to Facebook... two things you are willing yourself to avoid so you can write more. I swear I'm not trying to hamper your writing productivity! :)

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful :) It brought back memories of my first confrence. Well done...Carolyn

Retro Blog said...

Great Nom De Plum at least you put some thought into it. The conference sounded interesting.
So do you supposed there is a Voracious Reader's Conference ie; tips and tricks for getting all those books under your belt. I would love something like that. Keep up the good work. Royce

Lisa Kessler said...

Definitely write! Vomit up your story so you will have something to edit later!!! :)

Finish that book!

You can do it!!! :)

Great blog!

Lisa :)

Gayle Ann Williams said...

Very fun post. Starbucks, your car, the clothes. . . and tennis shoes! Made me laugh. Best of luck with your writing, go get em, girl.

All the best,
Gayle Ann Williams

Michele Staci said...

It was delightful reading your blog about ECWC. As a first timer, I was a little overwhelmed but glad I went as well.

I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. And I agree the only one who cares if I write the book is me, so I too have been planting myself in the chair at least twice a week to write. As a single mother of a 14 year old athlete - who happens to want to play almost every sport under the sun and working full time it isn't as easy to get that quiet time so I tell myself that two days a week is sufficient until it isn't and then I will have to go back and reevaluate and add days!

Thank you so much for sharing.

I live close to Bellevue so the need to clean and prepare food was not as much of a priority for me as always remembering to bring something home for my guy. Unfortunately, I got into the bad habit when he was younger to always bring something home for him when I'm away - guilt perhaps? Yeah, I hate leaving hiim for any length of time and it's my way of appeasing the guilt [and no I'm not Catholic!]