Monday, June 07, 2010

Arkansas Writers Conference 2010

To be honest, I've really been looking forward to this since the conference last year which you may read about here and also here but I hadn't really decided what to blog here because A. this is supposed to be a Leisure Arts/crafts/knit/crochet/sewing/quilting blog and B. it has been very little about those things lately for several reasons and C. it could easily turn into either a rant about where our manners have gone or a complete exploration of all my angst. But...some of you have asked (and also I don't have a blog topic for the rest of my life if we're going to be all "literal" about what this blog is supposed to be about so it's going to be a take it or leave it kind of situation. I should just apologize in advance).

Here are the facts:
2 days in downtown Little Rock, a Friday and Saturday, so I took a vacation day and spent it listening to writers. The air conditioning was excellent. Well, and the speakers too, but good AC is something I've really come to appreciate. Roland Mann, comic book editor, Werner Trieschman, playwright, Janis Kearney, presidential diarist and publisher, and an essayist, a cozy mystery writer.
Multiple, many well-written entries that won absolutely nothing, zero, zilch, nada. And then a few awards to keep me from flinging myself headlong off of something tall (which I would probably not really do, even in the agony of defeat so no worries, OK?).

What's harder to quantify:
The induction ceremony of Charlaine Harris into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame, two days before she had to be on the red carpet in Hollywood for the premiere of the new season of True Blood, the HBO series based on her Sookie Stackhouse books. Why this was so's hard to say, but the idea that a regular, ol' normal person living in Magnolia, Arkansas, is also headed to the red carpet because she has talent and good discipline (and probably a smidge of good luck if I had to guess), it means something.

Listening to Janis Kearney, Clinton's diarist who now runs her self-publishing efforts and writes, tell her story about being 1 of 19 children from the Arkansas delta and all that she's's inspiring.

Being surrounded by people (a fair quantity of them a little stranger than I am if you can believe it) who love to do the same things and don't think it at all weird that you spend your spare time writing, that's good. And they also seem to be better adjusted than I am and actually feel pleasure for other writers who win awards (and in my, I don't have any. Even after I won the long-awaited first honorable mention, I wanted more.)

I have no idea what to think about my awards: second place for a sports story requiring the use of cliches, first place for a Jane Austen story in today's world, and first honorable mention for a humorous story featuring a ghost, vampire, or witch...none of these were the strongest of what I turned in. The common denominator is humor so I know I've got to work with that. Surprise, surprise...I don't really know how to do anything else!

I think it might have broken my brain actually. I had the most exciting idea for the purple paint story growing into a book and yesterday, I just stared at it. I tried willing it to change. I think it's stuck. I blame third person.

Still, two things I keep thinking about:
Marilyn Collins ended the whole conference with a quote from Erma Bombeck:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me".

And then I got an email from the leader of the women's ministry that I've been volunteering for, writing a monthly thing, that went out last week. Someone actually opened the email, read it, and...get this, sent in a response! And the timing was just absolutely crazy or maybe absolutely God-like. I wrote about pools and diving in (as a metaphor for getting involved maybe) because I have this obsession with swimming pools lately. It's hot is what I'm saying. Since it's my first positive feedback from someone who isn't my friend, I'm going to share it. Here's her comment:

I haven't attended any of your meetings, but I enjoy being on your email list because of messages like the one yesterday about "Making a Splash".  Having recently learned that my breast cancer (8 years ago) has returned, I have been somewhat 'floundering'. It's been a sort of "what's it all about Alfie" kind of time for me.  The article today hit me just right---I'm going to decide what kind of splash I want to make (or none at all) and go with it.  Thanks for the message!!!

It's a lot to think about. Since I need blog posts and all, I may post some of the entries this week. You''ve always wanted to read a baseball story filled with cliches, haven't you?

Oh, and I'll put a picture in. I left my iPhone at home today. Brain=broken.

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