According to one of the women holding the wine hostage last night, there are these really important moments that happen to us in our 20s. We visit places we’ve never been and we meet people we would ordinarily never have a chance to meet. All of that seems to be true for me, but I’m not sure how much of it has to do with astrology (as she was arguing) and how much of it has to do with just being 20-something…or 30-something…or however old a person happens to be when these things come along.
So far, twenty-eight is working out pretty well for me (but so did twenty-seven). First there was the Decatur Book Festival (read about what that meant to this nomad here), and most recently, there was the weekend that I spent in the Wordy South (Mercer University in Macon, GA) at the Crossroads Writers Conference.
At Crossroads, I ran into Rachael, a girl I had class with in college (read Rachael’s blog here). We hadn’t talked in years, and at first we reconnected over old professors and how our thoughts on writing and publishing have evolved since we sat in those desks at Valdosta State four years ago. And then she told me that she was quitting her day job to chase writing full time. She was always quick to credit her husband’s job and his amazing support as primary contributors, but I was still impressed with her tenacity. She has a story, and she believes in it enough to tell it. That’s huge.
Rachael’s dedication to the cause made me start to doubt my own conviction. Did I believe in my story enough? Sure, I shelled out some cash to attend a writing conference. I had to believe a little bit, I guess. But like the wine lady would tell me later, “Writers finish,” and I’ve only finished (as in written, revised, and submitted) some poetry and short prose. I’m currently sitting on about a quarter of a manuscript, and I was doubting its legitimacy.
Later last night, I accidentally cornered Kathy Holzapfel (I promise, Kathy, I was going for the beer in the sink; also, I still can’t pronounce your last name). She asked, as did a lot of people this weekend, what I was working on, and I told her.
Note to self: work on length of initial pitch.
Side-note/ question to others: The elevator pitch…fast enough for one floor? a short building? a super tall building? the Tower of Terror ride at Disney?
But she listened, and she asked really great questions, and she was encouraging. I walked away from our short conversation feeling a little bit closer to breaking through. I felt a bit like a writer.
And that’s really what this weekend taught me on a metaphysical level: I am a writer. And I will finish this book because this story is worth telling, goddammit. Thanks to the sessions at Crossroads, I know better about what is ahead, and I know how to navigate that process when it comes (watch for another, more practical post to come later this week). But thanks to Kathy and the other folks that sat or stood and listened to me ramble about my little book, I know that what I’m doing is legitimate, or at least that it can be.
If I can say that Crossroads did one thing for me, it made me believe in what I’m doing. It showed me that my efforts haven’t been that far off-point.
So thank you to the planners who pulled off the Crossroads conference.
And thanks to everyone for the laughs over dinosaur erotica and how it is a real thing, apparently (don’t be too afraid of that hyperlink…come on…you know you’re curious).