Conquering demons, learning and belonging.

This week has flown by.  I worked longer hours at my main job Monday through Thursday so that I could have Friday off.  I’ve had a lot more PT clients lately, which has been great, but has made work extra busy. Working longer hours was preferable to taking unpaid PTO as I had felt pressed to get everything done in a timely fashion this month. I was also recovering from a spectacular weekend (in that the house chores had fallen a little behind, and I felt a little disorganized, not in any physical way). There was a job interview, work at the second job, all the normal studying and such, and prep for the conference I’m attending all weekend. The long awaited conference is this weekend!

A shot from the aforementioned ‘fabulous weekend.’

A shot from the aforementioned ‘fabulous weekend.’

I feel excited, nervous and woefully under-prepared.  

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that my grandmother passed away on Easter.  I was surprised to learn that she had remembered me in her will (cried a little, okay a lot). Practically, I have put some aside, but I also wanted to do something that grandma would have enjoyed hearing about.  Maybe a trip with Dean somewhere fun. Maybe something just for me. Definitely something she would have thought adventurous. I decided to attend a Writers Conference.  

I haven’t been very public about this, but I have been trying to do more with my writing lately.  This seemed like a opportunity to get some networking in, hopefully meet some like-minded people and learn more about writing in general. I also love learning, so this is exciting to me.  I decided to go all in and, in addition to admission, purchased a workshop, tickets to a reception and a meeting with a literary agent. I prepared everything that was required, which necessitated a little research on my part, but it was fun research and I felt like I was learning already.

Fast forward to this Tuesday.  I was planning on leaving Thursday afternoon after work, so I thought I’d start prepping my packing list. (#lyonsmakelists) I realized I had no idea what people actually wear to these things.  I have only ever attended fitness conferences where everyone just wears their favorite workout gear.  So I turned to our friend the internet.

Fortunately, this is a writers conference, so you can bet that there were a ton of blogs about the topic. (Many with citations and quotes from agents and publishers! You go guys!) Unfortunately, I discovered that I should have been googling this much earlier. Once I had covered the ‘what to wear’ topic, I clicked the follow up link ‘what to bring.’  Wow, was I unprepared. And about things that seemed incredibly obvious to me once I had read them. Business cards. Well, yeah, I had planned to bring business cards in case I met someone that I wanted to keep in touch with, BUT my plan never went further than to take some of my current business cards, which are very nice, but all about acting and fitness.  Nothing included my blog even. A one-sheet, had to look that one up, but it’s basically an advertisement for you and your book that you can hand out to anyone who’s interested after they hear your hook. Yes, a practiced one sentence hook summing up what your book is about, then if invited, a 45 second summary giving more details. Coming up with these things is more difficult than one might think.  Writing samples. Duh. I was planning to bring my manuscript and maybe a few copies of the first several pages. I was planning on bringing something for the workshop. I hadn’t thought of bringing additional samples to share should the opportunity arise.

I got all of these things together.  I created and printed business cards, got together some writing samples, designed and printed a one sheet and got them all printed and organized somehow.  (I’m actually pretty proud of the one sheet.) I got everything packed the night before. I had to reconcile myself with the fact that I was overpacking. I just didn’t know what kind of clothes to bring.  I prepped a couple of outfits and then threw in a couple of ‘in case’ outfits. I’m also due to start my period, so I feel gross and bloated and ALSO might ruin some underwear, so packed extras of underwear and also dark colors.  (Get at me if you’ve tried Thinx, I’ve been considering it.) #notsorryifthatwastoorealthisisawomansblog  

Sunrise on my way to work this week. Sometimes I just have to stop for them. They’re getting later.

Sunrise on my way to work this week. Sometimes I just have to stop for them. They’re getting later.

I went to work extra early in the morning (got in at 6am!) and worked extra late.  I biked home and my legs felt really sore. I was like ‘hey, you’ll be sitting A LOT soon!’  Came home, showered and loaded up the car. I pulled out of the parking space almost on time! (Which is really saying something because I gave myself 30 minutes from parking the bike to take off.) I practiced my hook and pitch the whole way down and even called my friend Charles, who was really busy, but I assured him I was supposed to practice this on busy people who had no time to listen to me (thank you, Charles) and he did give me a very helpful suggestion. I was in Lexington before I realized that I had left the cooler with all of my lunches and snacks on the kitchen counter.  Probably better that way. If I had realized in the car, it would have been more tortuous. If I had remembered everything, something else would have gone wrong, right?

After checking in with Dean, parents and friends to let them know that I had arrived safely, I considered going to the store.  But I had half an hour if I wanted to go to the first talk. I just ate one of the free hotel cookies (dry and hard), an entire box of Triscuits and laid on the bed instead.  I was so tired. I had received a kind of … irksome email from one of my jobs when I’m not really even supposed to be checking email but I had logged on to put up an out of office and do a few minor things that I felt would be good to take care of before Monday.  So, I saw it and it was in there and I was having a difficult time letting it go. I opted for a meditation. It was the right choice.

I was still so tired halfway through the talk.  (Which was Ifa Bayeza!) After it was done, I considered going up to her and saying how much I had enjoyed the pieces she had read (she read and spoke about some of her excerpts from The Ballad of Emmett Till) and maybe making a ‘hey, Chicago!’ connection, but I was just too tired and didn’t want to sound like an idiot, so I made my way back to the hotel.

Sunset in Lexington Thursday evening on my way to the first event. (Yes, the car was in full stop when I took the picture.)

Sunset in Lexington Thursday evening on my way to the first event. (Yes, the car was in full stop when I took the picture.)

Demons assailed once I returned.  What if everyone finds out you’re not a ‘real’ writer?  What if they read your stuff and use it as an example of what not to do?  What if you get a chance to talk about your work and you just stammer like an idjit because you were so unprepared?  You didn’t even try and talk to anyone there, do you even belong here?

I had a hotel cookie.  Heated it up in the microwave at the recommendation of the front desk guy.  Had a glass of wine. (At least I didn’t forget the booze, right?) I went to bed and woke up early (5am my time, 6am Lexington time) to get my run in. The fitness center was locked. I wasted twenty minutes while the morning guy looked for a key that he didn’t have. When I asked him if it was safe to run outside he said yes and looked relieved not to have to deal with me anymore. Considering my recent mishaps, this didn’t thrill me, but it was a short run and I found a neighborhood. Fortunately, due to my annoyance, my run was really fast! It was good that my core temperature was up because I couldn’t get the bathwater warm. This hotel will get review later. But I am dressed. I am ready. I’m going to pack up after posting this and head out. I have decided: yes.

Yes, I belong here.  

This is the first time I’ve ever been to one of these, the intent is to learn.  And I am learning. I am tired. And that is completely valid and understandable for a multitude of reasons.  I’m allowed to be tired. I have slept and exercised and feel better. I will go out and I will learn.

This is all new.  It’s okay to not know everything.  It’s okay not to be the best. Going through this will make me better.  And that’s why I am here.

Meredith LyonsComment