Thursday, September 29, 2016

Central Coast Writers Conference

In a few hours, I'll be heading north for the Central Coast Writer's Conference. This has been one of those days, or maybe even episodes, where I've felt as if the world is conspiring against me.

This won't be my first time at the Central Coast Writer's Conference. I went fifteen years ago, two days after the 9/11 attack. I had wondered if maybe the conference would be cancelled, but it carried on. I remember as I drove the busy Southern California freeways people lined the overpasses, waving signs and flags. There was a tremendous surge of patriotism felt everywhere.

President Gerald Ford's son, Stephan, was the keynote speaker. He gave a powerful address and he closed it by asking everyone to stand while he led us in prayer for our country. Just thinking of it now, after all these years, still makes me weepy.

I was working on my first novel, which I've since published as A Light in the Christmas Cafe. At the time it was called, Attic Lights. In a workshop on dialog, the instructor asked if anyone had a section of dialog they could share with the class. No one raised their hand, so after some hesitation, I did. It was the first time I ever made a group of people laugh (in a good way) at something I'd written. When I was done, everyone clapped. The instructor only said positive things, and the head of the conference, who I didn't see in the room until that moment, stood, pointed at me and asked for my name. After the workshop, several people walked with me to my next class, making me feel like a rock star.

Nothing much came from my time at the conference except for a much needed boost to my ego. It's been fifteen years. I no longer pay for my writing habit by teaching piano lessons--my writing now pays me. I no longer submit to traditional publishing houses. I rarely go to conferences. I've published twenty novels. They sell in countries all over the world.

I'm only going to this conference because I gave my writerly-daughter-in-law a Christmas gift of a writer's retreat. We were to go to one in Arizona in June, but a wildfire near our resort kept us home. So, remembering my positive experience years ago, I signed us up for this one.

And then this morning, my car wouldn't start. I thought it was the battery, so my husband and I spent hours trying to charge the battery and jump start it. I called the dealer and roadside assistance. The tow truck guy assured me the problem is not the battery. He didn't know what the problem was.

Without a car, I'm not sure how I'm going to get to my conference. It's 90 minutes from when I had planned to leave. Of course, a non-responsive car is nothing like the bombing of the World Trade Center, but still, I'm feeling like the Central Coast Writer's Conference is a hard place to get to.

(I'll let you know how it goes. I'll take notes.)

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