Tag Archives: PNWA Writer’s Conference

What makes some people’s dreams come true?

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Coming off a successful weekend at the PNWA Writer’s Conference, where I signed my book for people who actually paid money to read it, it struck me that a dream I’ve kindled in my heart for years has finally come true. I’m an author.

Looking around the conference I saw others with big dreams. You know the look: the fluttering hand at one’s breast, the rapid speech, the flush of possibility aflame in one’s cheeks.

Perhaps that’s why I love to ski. Gazing at a mountain, something bigger than my fears, I dream of skiing it, arcing across the steep slopes, gliding through the powdery bowls to feel my heart knock at my ribs, suddenly weighty with potential. Our ordinary days have a way of chiseling down our dreams, knocking off chunks of the granite vision, revealing, perhaps not the masterpiece we knew was hidden inside but instead just ordinary rock—crumbling and dusty.

The mundane work of the day to day—getting words on a page, driving to work in the rain, when we know it’s snowy somewhere in the mountains, lacks meaning when put up against the big moments. We set aside dreams for the practical, chip away at the masterpiece until it no longer stands quite so tall.

Maybe that’s why we root for the underdog. Our souls climb a little higher when Rocky knocks out Apollo Creed to become the heavyweight champion. We know, deep down, that if he can do it, maybe we can too.

My new writer friends clamored around my table at the author signing last night, thrusting their new copy of my book in front of me to sign. They were rooting for me.

What makes some people’s dreams come true?

Is it luck? Hard work? Something else entirely?

I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect it has to do with risk. Only when we put ourselves out there, conjuring dreams too big to hold, risk exposure and failure and utter ruin, that we even have a chance. Squirrelling away our potential like a bank account saves nothing. Only by exposing our granite dreams to the elements, maybe chucking away the shelter of the staid, can the true masterpiece emerge.

It would have been easier not to write this book. I could have clutched John’s recovery to my breast, clutched it so tight that no one could pry it loose. I didn’t have to fray our lives into separate strands to be followed and teased out of the tapestry, doing the hard work of making sense out of pain and struggle. But I did. I could have written this book for myself—kept it within the pages of my journal, just ramblings and musings of a dreamer. Instead I have exposed it to the world, unclasped my hands to release it.

Dreams can be frightening, unwieldy beasts, and it’s no wonder so few ever realize them. But I know the feeling of triumph. I learned it on the slopes, when the impossible suddenly becomes possible, when my skis snake through in just the right sequence of turns to make me feel like I’m flying. I know, now too, the weight of my words, and how light they suddenly feel, released to the sky.

Weekly High-Five Report

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This next week is a big one for me. I’m attending the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference this weekend. Last year, I met my editor and agent there and within a little over a month I had a book contract.

At the conference last year, a group of us started talking about fear. We asked ourselves collectively, “What activity or experience would be most frightening to you?” One answered rock climbing, another said sky diving. One even looked at me, shrugged, and said the thought of strapping on skis and schussing down the slopes scared her more than anything else.

“What about you?” My new friend, Lorraine, asked. “Is there anything that scares you?”

I thought about it. I’d tried most of the activities the group had discussed, and quite frankly I didn’t find them too over-the-top scary.

“Improv.” I said. The thought of standing in front of an audience and trying to make them laugh makes my palms sweat.

So when Lorraine told me that she does Improv, and that I should join her, I smiled nervously. I’m a writer. I communicate best through the written word. I don’t, to be honest, even like talking on the telephone. I’d much rather have time to contemplate my words, to massage them into just the right meaning and phrasing, in order to evoke the proper response. And, of course, in order to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth.

So when Lorraine asked if I wanted to co-present a workshop for this conference on using Improv skills in boosting one’s writing career, I’m not sure why I wholeheartedly agreed. But here it is. This weekend I will teach others how to promote themselves and their writing through Improv skills. The workshop is aptly titled, “Self-promotion for the Introvert”.

You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the weekly high-five report? I’m getting to that. You see, I’m crossing two things off my “scary-list” this week and that’s pretty high-fiveable, in my book. I’m confronting my fears of Improv and I’m talking about self-promotion. It’s almost a dirty word around our house, so just invoking the idea of promoting one’s self is pretty scary. But it’s a necessary evil in modern publishing.

I have a blog and a Facebook fanpage, an Amazon author page as well as a twitter feed and LinkedIn account. Oh, and I just got on Google+ just in case that becomes the next big thing. But what I thought at first was just murky self-promotion–a necessary evil in a world with low-budget book marketing campaigns–has turned into something else entirely. I’ve stepped into the Community (with a capital C) that bloggers always talk about. And funny thing is, I’m liking it. I’ve met people here and felt the support of friends and cohorts. It feels like one big high-five.

So with that in mind, this weekly high-five report is about conquering fear. High-five to me for crossing a few things off my “scary-list”.

Below, is a time-lapse video of some beautiful Patagonia scenery. For whatever reason, time-lapse videos are the new black. Everyone’s doing them. But this one is especially lovely. And the music isn’t bad either. So here’s some visual high-fiveability:

Patagonia Time Lapse Video from Adam Colton on Vimeo.

What about you? Have you crossed anything off your “scary-list” lately?