Typically my Saturdays are completely predictable. Coffee with my wife, home to walk the dog, vacuum the whole house, go to library and write for a couple hours, do more house chores, have dinner or go out to eat, go to bed. Simple, boring and something I've come to love.
Last weekend it was all messed up by an all-day golf event. Yesterday all of that routine was blown out of the water by an all-day writing conference I attended in Middleton, just outside of Madison. I was invited to the conference because I served as a judge in one of its contests. Of course, I was flattered, and it was fairly close to where I live, so I agreed.
Very much like the golf tournament the week before and true to what almost always happens, my change in routine was stimulating, rejuvenating and a ton of fun.
At these events I always walk in trepidatious about meeting and knowing people. It is a stupid, energy wasting fear, because I always end up sitting/talking with someone I know and it is fine. Why then such dread about that initial social introduction? I have no idea, other than my tendency toward introversion. Some seek out these things, others like me dread it until it happens, then we're fine.
The day was full of information and tips on writing and the writing/publishing process. A few of the highlights:
- A mystery writer who talked about moving the story along. I am not a mystery writer, but listening to this highly successful writer talk about the do's and don'ts of keeping a story moving with pacing, dialogue etc, was fascinating.
- The Wisconsin poet laureate who had us work with interweaving two subjects together to give a poem depth and complexity that it might have never had before. She has advanced degrees in English and writing and made me realize how flat my poetry and nonfiction is. (This is an eye opening realization, of course...)
- The winners of the Jade Ring Contest read some of their work over lunch. An entertaining diversion from taking notes on the presentations.
- A young woman came up and introduced herself as a fan of my work. She mentioned she was an English teacher at Arrowhead High School and had referenced my poems on a few occasions in her class. After talking to her for 5 minutes, I asked her name. It turns out it was Liz Jorgensen, sister of Gwen Jorgensen and daughter of Nancy, who I recently became friends with on Facebook. We had a great chat. It is these kinds of spontaneous networking opportunities that make these conferences so valuable.
- It turns out Liz then did a presentation on a cool form of Korean poetry called Sijo, (Pronounced SheeJoe). We all then wrote one and it gave me a new style to mess around with.
- Kim Suhr, a local writing teacher who owns her own studio gave a captivating talk on how to revise our work - a task no one likes, but is highly important.
- And finally, the day closed out with a wonderful author who hails from New York who talked about how to end a story well. After his talk was over, I asked if he had one good Woodstock story, as I'd heard he'd been there. He mentioned he was one of the few cops there in charge of 500,000 people and went on to tell a great story.
To finish off an already great day, I took my son out for dinner in Madison and had a great chat with him about his studies and his future. Such a good kid, living out a great collegiate experience in one of the best college towns in the nation. I live it vicariously through him.
So the day was nothing short of a fantastic diversion from my usual routine. Deep in the recesses of my mind, I knew it would, yet I still sort of dreaded it. And while I'll spend the rest of today catching up on what I didn't get done yesterday, I am a little richer person because I stepped out of that routine for 12 hours yesterday.