The Island, Part 3 (The Conference)

The actual conference – the reason why I was in Sanibel to begin with – started off slow, but ended nicely. The first few workshops I attended were, I think, designed more for the beginning writer. While I’m certainly not a pro (yet), I don’t consider myself a beginning. If I were, I wouldn’t be teaching writing in any sense of the word! Therefore, I had an issue when the bulk of one of the workshops revolved on the “show don’t tell” principle. No shit, Sherlock! I assumed anyone who was in a writing conference would have a grasp on that concept.

But as Thursday bled into Friday, I was happier with my choices and I even carved out some writing time in between the workshops and panels. My favorite workshops were John Dufresne’s workshop on the novel, Debra Monroe’s workshop on memoir writing, and Denise Duhamel’s workshop on poetry. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the rest, only that these were my favorites because I learned new “things” (yes, vague word, I know). The panel on memoir writing was interesting, though I didn’t get much out of it that I didn’t already know. The panel on online publishing was better; it tackled blogs, Facebook, twitter, publishing, copyrighting, and the pros/cons of publishing in online journals.

Meeting the authors, though, had to be one of the best parts of this conference. It reinforces the ideal that writing and publishing is possible, even with a family. I gained encouragement from the manuscript consultation with Debra Monroe, who was so down to earth, helpful, funny, and real. I was validated as a writer which, sometimes, is needed. Well, at least I do, anyway. In trying to juggle a full-time job (or, like they called it, a “day job”), motherhood, family life, and writing, sometimes I feel like I’m failing at all, because it’s too much. I’m splitting myself into too many scarps. Forget binary opposites – there is nothing binary about it!

So it was nice, seeing Margo Rabb, author of young adult fiction, there with her two kids – a baby and a preschooler – and her husband. It was nice hearing Debra Monroe tell me how she got two books published in the first ten years of her daughter’s life. It was comforting to know Robert Wilder can teach, write (and publish) and still have time for his family. It was reassuring seeing Steve Almond and his wife, both writers, there with their two kids, navigating the responsibilities of writer and parent.

Damnit – if they (and countless other writers) can do it, so can I! 😉

Of course, ironically, after the wonderful review of my manuscript, I received in the mail, when I got home, two more rejection letters. So close. Oh, so close. But I’m revisiting the pieces and sending out more work. If only the wait wasn’t so excruciating.

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