July 1, 2011

St. Davids Christian Writers Conference

I was one busy bee in June. I've wanted to write about our family's first vacation to the beach, during the second week of June, but the terrors are still too raw, and I haven't been able to laugh about it yet. I'll just tell you, when I first found out the St. David's Christian Writer's Conference was to begin a few days after returning from our vacation, I was hesitant to go, but when the time came, I couldn’t drive there fast enough.

Lesson 119: needing a vacation from your vacation = white trash

The conference ran from June 21-25. I was only able to stay until the 24th, and within that time I utilized not only Adam, but an additional four babysitters. The kids were spread out all over the place.

Lesson 120: leaving for a few days, and needing a whole village to take care of your kids = white trash

I had an awesome time at the conference. It’s been a long, long, long, long, LOOOONG time since I’ve had a moment to concentrate on ME. I barely knew how to act. Luckily, to ease this transition, I was put right to work as golf cart driver.

I got to know a good majority of the conferees as I drove them, and their luggage, from the registration area to the dorm rooms of Grove City College. It truly surprised me that anyone would want to get in a golf cart driven by a slaphappy weirdo drunk on her newly found independence. This speaks volumes about the type of people who attend this conference. Let’s just say, I felt very at home. My mentor for the week, Anne Siegrist (who rocks!), told me, during one of morning workshops, “I never felt like I belonged anywhere until I came to St. David’s.” Everyone, for the most part, was kind and nurturing, with a touch of creative crazy. My kind of peeps.

I learned loads of new information. I think I stuffed my brain a little too full on the first day, because after my classes, during free time, I went down to the dorm, called Adam, and that is the last thing I remember.

Lesson 121: passing out like a kindergartener on their first day of school = one out-of-the-loop white trash lady

When I awoke, I grabbed my phone to check the time. FIVE?! I couldn’t miss dinner and all the free ice cream! I sat up in a daze, and made my way to the bathroom door. I was unsure if I had to pee or not, so I stood in the doorway for a few minutes, looking like one of the undead, trying to decide. Published author, and faculty member, Nancy Skultety, shared a suite with my Aunt Carol and me, which means we shared a bathroom. To my embarrassment, as I stood there looking deranged, Nancy opened her door. With my brain not firing on all cylinders, I said, “I fell asleep. Do I look like crap?” “No, you look fine,” she nicely stated. I didn’t even say goodbye. I just turned and waddled away with visions of sprinkles on my mind.

Lesson 122: scaring someone you look up to, with your zombie-like whale presence = white trash

When I got to dinner, my Aunt Carol lovingly told me there were lines on my face, and my hair didn’t look as nice as it had previously looked. Awesome.

Lesson 123: going to dinner with writing professionals, looking like a child just getting up from her nappy-nap = white trash

I did much better the rest of the week. My brain finally adjusted, and it, along with my soul, reveled in the adult conversations about writing, and the encouraging words that made me feel like I had self worth. No one there saw me as the maid, or the go-to-lady to get a Poptart. People called me by name. I didn’t go by “Mom-I-need.” It was glorious.

One of the highlights of my week was when the children writers got together for a critique group. I brought the first chapter of my mid-grade novel, New Earth and the Self-Proclaimed King. I had taken it to the WPaSCBWI conference in the fall, and had gotten so many critiques I felt like maybe writing wasn’t for me. I quickly got over it and fixed my manuscript.

This time, I got great reviews. It was simply amazing. Not to mention, some of the people in the St. David’s critique group had also been in my SCBWI critique group. When it was over, I walked on clouds for quite some time.

Chapels, classes, coffeehouses, writing, camaraderie, lots of ice cream, and let’s not forget the auction that made me break out in hives, filled my days.

Lesson 124: breaking out in hives because others are spending money = white trash

The all time high and honor came at the very end of the week. I won a book for having the most magazines on the back of my toilet……..just kidding. Well, that did really happen, but it wasn’t the highlight. I’m really talking about winning the Alma K. Weber award, which is an award given to the most promising first-time conferee. I was very surprised, and almost couldn’t get up to get my award.

Lesson 125: not being able to accept an award, because your feet have swollen out of your shoes = white trash

What an honor….and challenge! Now, I actually have to make something of myself. Oh the pressure. Thank you St. David’s for the wonderful week, and believing in me at a point when I didn’t even believe in myself.

So, if anyone out there writes, and is looking for a week to get away and spend it working on your craft with some of the most wonderful people in the world, I highly recommend St. David’s. http://www.stdavidswriters.com/

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