This weekend, my husband and I both had conferences in Edmonton. He attended the Alberta Teacher’s Association conference for first-year teachers while Sunshine and I went to the annual Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Fall Conference. We were happy that both conferences landed on the same weekend so we only had to make one trip—and that our car was ready in time for us to make the trip!
I was looking forward to the conference for several reasons. I’ve always enjoyed conferences—the chance to learn and to meet others, to eat good food and get away for a bit. I was also looking forward to meeting Jane Kirkpatrick, as I’d read several of her books. But most of all, I was hoping that the conference would help get me over the writer’s block that I’ve had for most of the summer. I was looking for some inspiration and direction.
Jane opened the conference on Friday night by asking us, “What experience do you want to have here?” She talked about what experiences we might want to have (such as eating good food or meeting other writers) and then asked, “What keeps you from those experiences?” She told a few humorous stories to illustrate things that could keep us from the experience that we want to have. I could identify with that. I’ve realized lately that I have often used excuses—too busy with work, have a seven-month-old baby to chase, must get housework done—to avoid doing what I really want to do. Jane reinforced that I must push aside those excuses and just go for what I want.
On Saturday, one of the workshops that I chose to go to was a freefall writing exercise. I haven’t done much freefall, and once again, I was hoping it would help me overcome some writer’s block. Susan talked about what freefall is and then gave us a few prompts. Sunshine was in a good mood at the time, and sat on the table playing with a pen and some crinkled up paper. I was happy to write while she was busy, but she also inspired the writing of a lady sitting across the table from us. My thoughts went all over for the first prompt, but the second prompt got my imagination going on the start of a short story.
I was also busy managing the conference “book store”, and grateful that my mother-in-law was there to help take care of Sunshine. Many of the other writers commented on what a good, cute baby she was. On Saturday, she managed to catch naps during some of the sessions, and at other times played with her toys, sat on my lap, or chewed on my pens.
This year, I had set myself the goal of entering most of the categories in the Fall Contest, and despite leaving things until the last minute and having to quickly put together my entries, I managed to enter three pieces: a devotional, a short short story, and a creative nonfiction piece. During the awards time, I was busy with the book table when I heard my name called. I won second prize for my short short story. That was a huge encouragement, especially since it came with a cheque. Watch for that story here later this week!
Today it is Monday once again. The conference is over and the weekly grind begins. Yet I find that I did have the experience that I had hoped for at the conference, and I have some definite goals and plans for my writing in this week and the months to come.