Today I’m an Open Book

I left on a jet plane. And turbulence, aerophobia and stomach bugs (mostly) behind me, I’m still terrified.

This trip had been planned for months, albeit with blurry intentions.

What’s a writers conference, anyway?
Why would I go?
Why wouldn’t I?
Is this my next step?
Will it be worth it?
And – wait – what’s a writer’s conference, again?

I landed on going. And the process began.

Suddenly, I had a soft deadline. (February seemed far, far away back in September.) My writing continued as normal.

I was in a groove and slowly chipped away at my project.

Two months ago, I stumbled upon some key info – I’d registered for a workshop which necessitated a full manuscript.

Groove and slow-chipping became focused and down-hunkering.

I wrote with whatever bits of time I could find. As a mom this meant Evernote behind a locked bathroom door. It meant school car-lines, waiting rooms and in between “why are you still up?” and “go back to bed” and “you’re going to be so tired for school tomorrow” – the three hour stretch known in our house as bedtimes. Yes, plural. Don’t even. It meant less holed-up in a writing shed for hours on end and more holy-cow, how is nap-time over already?

Two weeks ago, I learned about the editors and agents I’d have opportunity to meet with. Apparently, a writer’s conference is more than just input – it’s networking, pitches and feedback. Things got real quickly.

Then, through the grapevine, I heard we needed things like business cards and “one sheets.” When I emailed the conference manager, I wanted to ask “I don’t know what a One Sheet is. Was info sent out about these? Or are these just the things real writers know about?” Instead, I just politely asked her to forward me the info I’d missed. Let the real continue.

A week ago, I engaged with the conference mentor program. My mentor wanted to pore over samples of my work. I scrambled to finish, to have it others-ready. Took a deep breath and hit the send button. When I didn’t hear back right away, I assumed she was trying to figure out a kind way to say “this conference probably isn’t for you. Is it too late to change your travel plans?”

This is where the rubber meets the road. I may just be buckling up for a zippy ride on the learning curve. I might make some key connections. Someone else might even see potential in my project.

To be continued, I suppose.

This week, I’m going to have to be brave. I’m going to have to keep my dreams in front of me and my thick skin intact.

That might not be easy, considering how quickly discouragement comes.

Discouragement sneaks in at unexpected moments. I walk in the library or the book store (I do love books!) and my eyes scan the endless shelves of books.

Different books. Different authors. Old books, new books, beloved books, unheard of books, series books, “character” books, best seller books. There are so many books. 

More books than I or my family could ever read.

Books already written, not books being written. 

They have a place. Invited to the shelves. Taken off the shelves. Read and read again. Recommended. Passed on. Quoted. Beloved.

So, naturally, it terrifies me. Knocks me down a little.

Has all that should be written – been? Will mine be lost on a shelf, smashed between others – unnoticed, unneeded or un-enjoyed? Will mine be lost on a desk of proposals, not-quites and don’t-bothers?

Is there room here for me?

And it’s not just the buildings filled with books. It’s the 2017 way of life. It intimidates my dream. Is 2017 even conducive to breaking-in a new author?

Can one write a page-turner for a world who no longer turns pages?

How does one write to a world
…who skims, scans, skypes and swipes
…who scrolls feeds, but hardly reads
…who processes thoughts in 140-character blocks
…who has six reactions after – like, love, anger, wow, sad, laughter 
…who judges a book by a cover or the rate-stars of another
…who thinks – thanks to caffeine, who adventures through a screen
…who writes in emoji and autocorrects, only
…who lets headlines represent instead of actual content
…who instagrams and latergrams, infographs and memes for laughs
…who thinks in third person and speaks in selfies and sermons
…whose communications are abbreviations
…who turns phrase-traditions into Urban Dictionary definitions
…who wonders-not and ponders-not, just Bings, Siris, Alexas and Googles a lot
…who jumps at viral and doesn’t snope libel
…who isn’t used to waiting or slowly communicating
…who has a bud in their ear to listen and hear
…who does turn-by-turn directions, sans observing or inspections
How does one enter a world like that?
Will this world bother with another voice – And will I?

You see, I, too, am part of this “who.”

I’m a member of the 2017 world who intimidates the writing right out of me.

I need to bravely take it one word at a time, one post at a time, one page at a time – and if I’m allowed – one book at a time.

A picture is worth 1000 words, but I have to believe 1000 words are worth something, too.

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