Needless to say, this hasn’t been the easiest year for me, but I finally feel like I’ve found my feet again. (I am so Irish, that as I wrote that, I thought to myself, “oh, you’ve gone and cursed yourself now.”)
Curses aside, I ended up having to cancel a lot of things, including speaking at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference and at Emerald City Writer’s Conference, both of which I hated having to say “I can’t”, but I just couldn’t. Between the lost time writing and now trying to catch up, speaking would have been impossible. When you see a speaker at a conference, know that they have probably put at least 20-40 hours into that one hour speech. I knew, even back in June, that I wouldn’t have those hours come fall.
But I couldn’t bring myself to cancel my trip to St. Louis for the NINC conference. NINC, short for Novelists Inc., is a writer’s organization that puts on an annual conference. I’ve been a member for years, but never gone to the conference. (Again, that time thing.) But this year, they were having a Forensics Day, and I was curious. So I booked my place, my hotel room and my airfare the week before I got sick.
All summer long, I kept thinking, I need to cancel that. I can’t take the time. But I am so glad I didn’t. It really was what I needed. I went for two reasons: 1) I wanted to refresh the well, and 2) I didn’t have to do anything other than show up. The second reason was huge. I didn’t have to speak or sign or smile. I could just go and hang and listen. And that is exactly what I did. To murder and mayhem, to screenwriting, to world building, to writing mysteries, to how male and female brains differ. Most of this stuff I may never, ever use, but the speakers–a unique mix– all gave me different aspects of writing and the business that I certainly didn’t know a lot about. While I may never write an Emmy award winning script for Castle, I learned tidbits that will go to work for me today.
Best of all? I had a great time. Made tons of new friends. Laughed my butt off. And came home brimming. Overflowing. Refreshed. I have to say, it is a long time since I returned home from a conference feeling excited and full of possibilities. And why wouldn’t I have come home like that.
I got to play detective at a mock crime scene.
I went to a baseball game and sat so high up, I don’t think even pigeons know about those seats.
I made new friends (Claudia Dain, Kathy Steffen) and hung out with some of my favorite regulars (Nicole Burnham, Lisa Wanttaja). We writers are so funny. We are such solitary creatures by nature, and then turn us loose in public and we are like kids at recess. Bragging, teasing, racing from one thing to the next. Three days of recess.
I woke up each morning to a view of the arch. In fact, it was rather funny, because as I showed all my pictures to my husband, he commented that I had the arch in nearly every picture. But I never got over there and saw it close up. Guilty as charged. I was having too much fun.
Now I am back at my desk, I feel full of ideas, excited and proud to be a writer and thankful, ever so thankful for this career. What do you do to refresh your well?