WHY GO TO WRITING CONFERENCES?

So a few years ago I was at a writing conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Writing seminars often have sessions about the importance of getting over the typical introverted nature most writers have and getting out to do public speaking gigs.

I have experienced quite a bit of fear when it comes to public speaking, so I raised my hand and asked the speaker, “Do you have any tips about how to relax before a speaking engagement?” The speaker never even got a chance to answer.

Business cards from surrounding classmates were immediately shoved in my face and they began to give me advice.

  • One offered a class in mindfulness
  • another espoused visualization
  • someone else was going on about yoga
  • and the man directly beside me… a life coach, who looked oddly enough like James Coburn was saying, “Do this with me… breath in…hold it…now breath out… long, slow breaths. Again!”

The speaker and I exchanged a little knowing glance, and I thought, “Man. Writers are weird! Wait a minute. I’m a writer!” That’s when I realized I was right where belonged.

That’s when I realized I was right where belonged.

So, assimilation? Is that what conferences do for us? Is this where we meet others of our species? Maybe it’s where we see in the mirror dimly? Or allow others to see who we are… or maybe to see ourselves more clearly.

By the way, if you’re in the area, The Nebraska Writers Guild will be having their spring conference soon. Sign up if you have this little inkling that maybe, you too, are kind of weird! If you are, maybe you’re a writer!

When I Knew

Every year around spring, I decide I should exercise more. Due to this annual spring epiphany, my husband and I have an outbuilding… a chicken coop, to be exact… full of the fitness machines and good intentions we’ve purchased over the years. In the spring.

Around four years ago, that time of year came, and I again decided to give fitness a chance. (World peace might be more achievable.) So that day, I asked my husband to go out to the coop and get the elliptical machine and bring it to the house for me. Being the good man he is, he did.

So, he put the equipment on the patio as it was covered in dust and cobwebs and I set about cleaning it up. Once clean, it was time to bring it into the house. I thought about calling him, but it was nice of him to do the major heavy lifting. I figured I could surely get it in the house on my own. Couldn’t be that heavy, right?

Turned out, it wasn’t. Nope. Weight wasn’t the issue. Its collapsible construction, however, was. When I grabbed it by the back bar and tilted it toward me it collapsed like an accordion being thrown in its case by a polka band member. Front bar met back bar with a slam… my fingers crunched between the two.

I screamed, and being the big baby I can be sometimes, started bawling like Lucy when Desi told her she had some ‘splainin’ to do. I worked to pry my fingers out of the contraption. Then I jumped around holding my throbbing hands up in the air like if I performed a super-duper dramatic pain dance and cursed loudly, somehow my fingers would be cured.

Of course, it didn’t fix a thing, and when I finally slumped down on the back step all I could do was stare at my waffled fingers and continue to sob. But quite honestly, I wasn’t really crying because my hands hurt, although they did. I was crying because I was dead sure my fingers were all broken and darn it if I wasn’t right in the middle of writing a novel. If my fingers actually were broken, I would never be able to finish typing it!

And, that’s when I knew… I am a writer.  

FYI. Didn’t get fit. Didn’t break my fingers. Finished writing Casting Stones. Made millions. HAHAHA. No. Not really. But hundreds. Absolutely hundreds!

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE…

I just returned from speaking at my hometown library. For the most part, it went well. The communication prior to the event was excellent. They had a special parking place for me, which I thought was very professional. The director of the library introduced me, which I truly appreciated. The library did an excellent job of promoting the event, and they had a nice crowd gathered. I felt welcomed, and many audience members came up afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation and what a good job I did. I sold quite a few books, too, so that was lovely! All in all, it really was a great experience.

But…

Doesn’t there always seem to be a “but” somewhere? Why is that? I suppose because I put it there. I could focus on the 99% that went right. But I hit a snag with one thing that blemished the experience. One cranky woman, a tactless person, who felt it was her job to correct me. Between the people purchasing my books, and those telling me how much they enjoyed my speech, one persnickety woman, with the mindset her job is to make sure people don’t feel too good about themselves, told me, loudly, that I used incorrect tenses in a sentence on one of the slides in my presentation. She also made it clear she didn’t like the cover of my next book.

Several people around commented about how rude she was (after she left because quite frankly, I think most of us were frightened by her!). Honestly, I thought it was kind of humorous. She clearly had to make others feel wrong, to make sure people knew she was right. Insecurity is an ugly thing.

And yet, here I am having a little rant about how rude some people can be. Truth be told, she was right about the grammar. One of my power point slides had these words: “An author’s book is their baby.” You probably see the error. “Author” is singular and “their” is plural. I should have written, “An author’s book is her baby.” Grammar isn’t my wheelhouse. I’m a creative type, focused on the bigger picture. It’s why I pay a professional editor before I ever publish a book. As far as her opinion about the cover of my book not being attractive, it’s her opinion. Everybody has one. Did she need to share it? No. Do I care? Well, regarding the grammar issue, yes. It’s good for me to remember I’m always being judged whether I like it or not. Was it polite? Kind? Good manners? Uh… no.

What did Mamma use to say? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I think sometimes when we criticize, the dirt we sling at others lands on our own face. But hey, I smiled and said, “thanks for the comment.” My face is clean! Food for thought for those who feel that need to correct others. Manners make the world a nicer place.

And now that I got that off my chest, I can focus on what a nice opportunity the library gave me to promote my books!

The Best Intentions

It’s said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This type of saying is called an aphorism– a pithy observation that contains a general truth. Another example would be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Every week I say I’m going to do a blog post here. Every day, many times a day, ideas pop into my head about potential blog topics. Truly, my road is well paved. I’m this way with ideas for meals to make, rooms to clean, cards to send, and exercises to do. Spring and summer are just around the proverbial corner, so soon I’ll be intending to weed, water, mow, plant, paint, and Lord knows what else.

And yet. I haven’t done any of these things of which I intend to do. I feel like I need to do some kind of penance. Bless me reader for I have neglected my blog. It has been three weeks since my last entry.

In the same way, I intend to work on the book I’m writing. I intend to flesh out an outline for a new story floating around in my brain. And always amidst the things I intend to do, I humor the idea of doing dishes, vacuuming the rugs, sweeping and washing the floors and doing the laundry. Guess what usually wins. Facebook. Email. Texting. Reading. And now that I’m up early in the mornings and off to work, when I get home, napping has become the forbidden fruit I can’t seem to deny myself.

I guess I’ll have to admit it. I’m a procrastinator. I don’t think I used to be, but I don’t remember being so doggone tired all the time. My eyelids must be weighted. They insist on closing. And with bleary eyes comes a foggy brain. Once again, my intention was to write a great little post full of pithy observations, and the most I can conclude is, I’m a neglectful and tired, procrastinating writer. Luckily, there is this nicely paved road in front of me. I hope it leads to a couch so I can nap.