I am an odd creature when it comes to determining if I am enjoying myself. For certain events, I need to spend time unpacking what I have experienced and handle all the objects I pull out of the bulging package. In the moment I can usually say, if asked, that I am enjoying myself but I tend to reserve my full opinion until later. This weekend was no different.
I attended Breathe Writer’s Conference on the suggestion of a friend. In fact, when she asked I said yes-didn’t stop to think about it, talk myself out of it or even consider the fact that I am not a writer-I just said yes. I have harbored delusional ideas of writing a book someday but never thought it was something I would really do. Still don’t. I am an avid reader and love all sorts of books-fiction, biography, autobiography, history, philosophy, blah, blah, blah. I admire a writer who can convey that toasted weed smell of walking through a field in summer or give me the willies describing the complaining hush-shhh sound of grass as a slender muscular form slips through the blades. To think that I could do something like that comes across as nothing short of hubris on my part-not so different from thinking(saying) I am an artist just because I have an acanthus trimmed certificate of higher education that testifies this fact.
To say I went into the conference free from attitude is, well, it is too out of character for me to even attempt to pull that one off. Skepticism, or perhaps cynicism, keeps me from jumping into most anything without careful over analyzing or preemptive disappointment. Being a master of self protection these tools help to insure that 1) I am never disappointed and 2)I am my own worst enemy. To prove my point here are some quotes from the copious journal (of insecurity) that I kept while at the conference (my apologies in advance to conference members):
At this very moment I am wishing I had my hundred and a quarter back and my Friday and Saturday free to do other things like clean the lint trap in my dryer or tame the fuzz bunnies hiding under my sofa. Don’t get me wrong-I said yes to this-quite willingly in fact-assuming that I was being led in this direction. This being said, somewhere along the way I think I have suffered from a moment of overly enthusiastic misguidedness and that ‘led’ feeling may have only been transient indigestion. Dang.
Sooo, what am I going to do with this? I am sitting at a table for four-occupying it as fully as I can and giving off my very best don’t get touchy feely in this general direction vibe (which appears to be very effective since I am undisturbed). I have looked at the itinerary and can’t begin to remember which workshops I signed up to take and have begun to whittle it down by the subjects that I respond to with an ain’t no way. I seem to be responding like that to a lot of them which leads me to the next question-when’s dinner? Well, it’s 12:15 now and dinner is at five something-shoot.
OK, now it is 12:22, my battery is getting low and I will need to get up and search for a plug which opens it up to me bumping into someone-making eye contact and inadvertently appearing like I want to be social. The other option is closing my computer and looking like I am unoccupied-which is equally as dangerous for appearing open for conversation. My next option will be pretending to type and staring at a dark screen-which might work except the full table directly behind me is in the sightline of my screen and then I would just look stupid and not busy. Oh, what to do-what to do. I could be friendly but why start now-doing something so out of character for me would be a bad way to start off-why go out on a limb when it is fall and everything is brittle and dry and might crack off with me on it. Nah, clinging to the trunk is where I will stay-it is safe, I have a good grip and there is no danger of crash landing on my ass with leaves in my hair.
I’ll stop right here so I don’t come across as a complete misanthrope-the conference was great-the people were fantastic and I am so, SO glad I attended. I learned a great deal and left energized and encouraged-not as an author but as an artist. The authenticity of some of the presenters and their willingness to expose their fears and anxieties let me know that the struggle of creativity is not just my own-who knew!
All kidding aside, the workshop and lunch forum I attended addressing fear were worth the entire conference for me. Am I a writer? Probably not. I am someone who likes to write-plain and simple. I did learn that I may be a bit too prosaic to consider fiction should I decide to give it a go. I have to laugh here because during an exercise for taking an idea from abstract to concrete I took one word and made it two while everyone else constructed entire chapters in the matter of a moment. I always thought concrete had two ingredients—OK, bad pun but the essence-for me anyway-is simplicity-which can mean economy and in my case-as far as words are concerned- I guess I am down right stingy! So, if Seinfeld had created a writing Nazi he would say “No fiction for you!” Hey, I’m good with that.
What is the point of all this? I am not sure yet-still unpacking-but, if I know anything it is that the most unexpected things can happen when you aren’t looking. I wasn’t looking and some really cool stuff happened this weekend-I met some great women, discovered I should have met more (and probably would have if I hadn’t been such a dork) and had a great time-in spite of myself. Thanks to the folks of Breathe for opening me up to new experiences-can’t wait to see where they take me!