On Conference

Here it is, Thursday after the 2014 Madison Writer’s Conference.

For four days I’ve avoided sitting down and writing something in regards to my experience there. There’s so much to say about the nervousness of sharing my work, the excitement of being let in on industry secrets, the networking, small talk, and trading of business cards (with SO many Deborahs!) why have I been avoiding the commentary?

There’s no good reason that I know of to not do what I want to do.

And yet, no words written in four days.

Keep writing. That’s the solution to every writing problem.” — That was Nathan Bransford, one of the author-speakers at the conference. It was one of those bits of advice that is so simple I thought he was kidding. The kernel of truth therein, though, has lingered with me.  The simplicity of it stirs my hope.

And so, I keep writing.

I had expectations of the weekend, of the tactics and skills I would learn, authors and agents I would meet, and changes made in the way I approached my wordsmithery. I had to believe that the weekend would be altering and significant enough to justify the tax return spent on it.  I even toyed with the fantasy of my two agent meetings resulting in my book’s sale. I imagined shaking of hands with wide, excited smiles. My life would change in wild ways, my words vindicated and righteous as they were bought and made real. The agents arguing in the hallway over who would represent my efforts.

That didn’t happen, exactly.

The two agents I met with were women vastly different from one another. Older, younger.  Highly experienced, less so. Checked out, engaged. They both, though, saw a glimmer of potential in my pitched novel. They saw something there, something not entirely seen before. And those thoughtful, paused glances as I made my pitch encouraged me.  I left both meetings acknowledging that a great amount of work lay before me. The book was not near as ready as I had thought going in, but I glimpsed that both professional women, who’d seen thousands of ideas, liked mine.  And that was a good thing.

And so, I endeavor onward.

Cheers and Good Words,


Shifting on Dreams

I was thinking about this blog, about what I’d like to convey.  For years I’ve been resistant to the blog-band-wagon movement. Not that I don’t appreciate other works I’ve seen. A lot of my friends have blogs. I follow their Southeast Asian searching-for-self travels, their apple orchard infestation mini-disasters, their waterproof backpack reviews, and their preparing-for-baby journaling. It is all interesting and I love keeping up with my friends in this way.

But, the impression I had seemed/seems/is self-serving and a lot of work. I was told, however, if I wanted to be serious about writing, then I would have to seriously write. A lot. And Get-Over-Myself by putting it out there for the world to follow, quote, comment on, and judge.  Knock yourselves out. So, here I am, here I go. Self-serving and that’s ok.

In the interest of being less chicken-shit, and facing my challenges, I’ve got some big questions I want answered. Questions about dreams. Now stick with me.  I know how this all sounds. I cringe a little at any commentary on the “follow your dreams” mantra.  It’s more complicated than that, thanks stuffed smiling bear with a sign. I have a mortgage (and how the hell did that happen? I’ve been a contented vagabond for 13 years! But that’s another long-winded story.)

Snarky eyebrow raising aside, what is it about following dreams, about chasing dreams that I keep coming back to?  “Following” and “Chasing” has an air of wandering or desperation, of carrot on a stick, within sight but always out of reach. I don’t like to perpetuate that can’t-ever-quite-get-there but good-try-anyway stigma.  What are my actual goals, actual dreams? What did I want to be as a child, and how was it that I lost sight of that? What keeps me from practically realizing that dream? And what of my friends, my parents, and the people I pass in the pasta isle of the grocery store? What do they wish they were doing?

Adventure seeking is only a part of what I’ve always wanted and it was an admittedly simple and safe move to say that was what my blog would be solely about. That theme, for me, was fledgling and much like “chasing” or “following” in and of itself. And as my dreams include adventure and freedom as vital parts of the whole, I’ve come to (never say “mature,”) knowing that adventure cannot fully and wholly define my being.

When I glance on a startling idea, it’s like a glimpse through a keyhole, seeing a scene on the door’s far side, and then just as there was a flash of lightness, there is the knotty, dark, mahogany, locked door again. And I think, when I get some time later, I’m going to write down what I saw through that keyhole.  And later, when I’m writing, that will be the goodness.

And I sit with that feeling—how great it will feel later to feel great as I write  about what I’ve seen.

Whereas there’s admittedly a shred of joy in anticipation of that feeling, why the hell don’t I cut the wait and just write? Pull over the car and write it down, when I wake in the night – get up and address it. That’s something to work on. As is this, my somewhat reluctant blog endeavor. I want to be authentic in action, in write. Endeavoring to Authenticity. Onward Motions.

Cheers to Good Words,


Coffee Shop Adventure Seeking

I work at a coffee shop. Again. I’ve been a barista on and off since I was 15.  I love the intellectuals reading intently and taking notes, the philosophers one-upping each other’s volume as they try to make their point, the second-date high schoolers holding mochas with both hands and peering at each other through shy eyelashes. I wonder about where people have come from and where they’re going. A few years ago I wrote an article exploring this feeling. It was published in the glorious Mountain Gazette. See here:


A few nights ago, as I was scrubbing the espresso machine, a slight woman came in and posted a flyer she’d brought. When she left I went to read it, drying my hands as I stood in front of the board.

I saw guitar lessons, meditation groups, dog walking services, dance shows, conferences, and discussion groups. I had no idea which flyer was hers. But there was a clear moment that I realized more was happening in this town than I could ever see or do.

For the month of April I am going to attend, contact, or investigate two posted notices a week. I’m new to town and looking for adventure. Here I go.