I discovered this weekend that I wasn't breathing.......
Did that get your attention? It got mine.
I suppose I should clarify things since my mom will most likely read this and I don't want to scare her. Hi mom - yes I'm fine.
Here's the thing. Have you ever been going along in your life and discovered that you weren't truly breathing? You weren't taking the deep breaths of life. You were holding it, waiting for something to come along that would make you gasp. You probably didn't even realize how shallow your breathing had become until it stopped altogether. Yeah, that was me.
I need to rewind for a moment to two years ago when I attended my first writer's conference and took the leap into this crazy world. The Pennwriter's convention was a peek into the real world of writing, not the dabbling that I had been doing here and there. My friend and I were new at this so we went for one day and we stuck our toe into the water carefully. What we found was an ocean inhabited by some amazingly talented people. I was hooked. I was gung ho to write that next great novel and get it sent off to an agent.
Unfortunately life is not an ongoing writer's convention. (God that would great if it was. Talking about books, characters, plots, motivation....) Okay, back to the story. The thing that you realize when you're no longer with all these amazing people is that the writer's life is very lonely and pretty foreign. Think about it. We sit inside our heads making up imaginary friends, or enemies, or vampires...well you get the picture. Meanwhile the world around us needs to keep moving on and it doesn't understand what you mean when you say you need to go get lost in your thoughts. There are groceries to be bought, laundry and cleaning to be done, and the job that actually pays us at the moment. Friends and family would like you to be present now and then as well. On top of that there is the exercise that you need to throw in due to the hours you sit day dreaming. Let's be honest, sometimes these other voices drown out the ones in your head and they win.
My point is that in the past few months those voices were winning....a lot. When they became louder, my breathing became slower, until I literally stopped. You can go a long time without this kind of breathing, but it doesn't mean that you're still alive.
Fast forward to this past Friday when my friend and I returned to the Pennwriter's conference. We were wiser this time, a little more advanced in what we knew. Honestly, in my friend's case, very advanced. She's become my information guru.This time we attended the full three days and immersed ourselves in all of it. We went to seminars, author/agent/editor panels, our area group meeting where we were lucky enough to find a new kindred spirit who is moving to our city this summer! We even ate dinner with a writer who has the most amazing mind for the business side of writing. Jonathan Maberry blew us away with his knowledge and more importantly how open he was to sharing with those of us just starting out. I went through the entire weekend with a new found energy. I couldn't remember the last time that I had that kind of excitement about writing (other than my first Pennwriter's). Telling a friend about it today she said "I haven't heard you talk like this in months!" Let's face it, even this blog has lagged recently. Again when you aren't breathing you tend to stop living.
So my point is that at the conference I took in a huge breath and I have been breathing again ever since. Now, can I guarantee that I won't have moments again? Can I state emphatically that there won't be a time where the day to day world won't win out over my imaginary one? Sadly no. I'm pretty sure it can take awhile to get the breathing down properly, but I am willing to say that I won't give up trying to learn it. One of the most telling statements for me this weekend came from an editor panel I attended. When asked what they would like to tell new writers just starting out, the inspiring Heidi Ruby Miller said, "It will become your life."
I pray that she is right.....
I can't thank everyone here (I do believe the blog would crash), but I would like to mention the people who stood out; from a seminar I took, advice and knowledge imparted, and most of all enthusiasm shared.
Mark Tavani, Donald Maass, Jason Jack Miller, Nancy Martin, Suzie Townsend, Bobbi Carducci, Kathryn Craft, Chuck Sambuchino, Jon Sprunk, Becky Vinter, Whitney Ross, Jennifer Barnes, John Lawson, Uwe Stender, Eddie Schneider, Jonathan Maberry, Dee Romito, Claudia Recinos, Heather Desuta, RR Smythe, Mary Sutton, Wende Dikec, and most of all to Jess Williams and the Pennwriter's group for organizing an amazing conference!
Time to go practice breathing....