Left Coast Crime, the conference in Phoenix, was a lot of fun. From what other attendees have told me, it always is. LCC in Portland last year was my first, and I had a great time. This time, as I told you in my last blog, I wasn’t on a panel, which was disappointing. Instead, I had half-an-hour to myself to talk about whatever I wanted, but I was the one who had to attract an audience, and that was scary. I had visions of sitting for half-an-hour alone, looking lost and unloved.
I devised a plan. First, I decided on a topic. I thought I might attract visitors if they knew what I was going to talk about. My topic, announced in the conference program, was “You’re Never Too Old.” A good friend did a poster for me, although there was nowhere to post it except inside the room.
At the conference, I talked to everyone I knew and lots of people I didn’t know and invited them to come and see my presentation. To my dismay, I found that the rooms allocated to the single presenters were located at the very end of the meeting rooms, so it would be unlikely that I would attract a casual visitor. Someone would have to come looking for my presentation room.
I felt like a huckster, saying to everyone I met, “Remember. Come hear me 9:30 Saturday morning in Russell B.” But it worked! I got twelve or fourteen people to attend, many of whom I knew but at least four attracted by my topic. Yay!
I talked about my childhood desire to write, and the way my ego was squashed when I wasn’t accepted for the high school magazine. Although I majored in English Literature and minored in Philosophy (not good choices for a future career), I didn’t do any creative writing until many years later, when I took an interesting course which asked the participants to write an early memory in the voice of the child to whom it had occurred.
It was an interesting experiment and proved to be life-changing for me and for others in the class. Many broke down in tears when they wrote a painful memory–and most were painful–in the voice and as the child to whom it happened. class.
Soon after that I joined a group of friends in reading THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron. We read a chapter a month and did the exercises. I bogged down when I was supposed to spend a week without listening to television, radio, or music or reading a book or newspapers. I couldn’t do it. A week of living in my own head was impossible.
One exercise stayed with me for a long time though. First thing every morning I wrote three pages without thinking and without stopping. The pages were garbage, and I eventually threw them out, but they were very freeing. When I was still working, at a job with long hours and a long, traffic-filled commute, I got up at 4:30 in the morning to do my “morning pages.” These experiences were part of my journey to the dream of being a writer.
A woman who came to see my presentation suggested that I carry the theme, “You’re Never Too Old,” further, inspiring other older people–and there are lots of us–to realize their dreams of writing and publishing their stories, their memories, and in my case, my mystery novels. She suggested I write a self-help book for guidance, and I think I’ll do it.