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.