Monday, April 4, 2011

On Getting Unstuck

See this tiny room? That’s what I was supposed to share with a stranger. The other bed? That would be where the photographer is standing in order to capture the charming shot. So when I showed up to the Asilomar Writer’s Conference and saw this, I bailed. I immediately turned around, walked outside, and looked at Hotwire for a room in town. With that kind of short notice, all I could get was a place in an old 40s drive-up motel, the kind that in less touristy towns might rent by the month. But it was mine, all mine! The funny thing is, I spent no time there. The conference hooked me, from breakfast through the last glass of wine well after midnight.

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes all you need is an idea; sometimes all you need is energy. And sometimes you get a conflation of both. For me, that happened at Asilomar.

The speakers were great – I think this is the first conference where I attended every session. Like a seed feeling for the warmth of the sun on the damp earth above it, I soaked in everything the various authors, Illustrators, editors, and agents had to say. But it was the evenings that provided the heartiest sources of inspiration for me. After the last evening session, groups would congregate in different areas. Both nights I ended up sipping wine and eating Moose Much in the fireside lobby of the very lodge where I was originally booked to share a 76 square foot room with a stranger. Shame on me for not staying - the commute would have been far easier up two flights of stairs than across town. 

It was here that 20 or so of us gathered and talked about what we were working on, what we had in the pipeline, what we dreamed one day to do. I heard some amazing success stories and some cautionary tales, and I got some great advice without even asking for it. Some conferences are magical that way. But perhaps most important, I came home with the first 16 pages of a new manuscript. This was something I had been thinking about for months, but had neither the energy nor the inspiration to start. I love this project. I feel like I was born to write this book. In fact, I did a middle school visit last week and instead of reading from Prophecy of Days, I thought I’d try out the new piece. To my utter delight, they were riveted!

So, if you have a chance to attend the Asliomar Conference, I highly recommend it. You get to listen to speakers in this beautiful and historic conference center: 

 And you will take a million photos of Pacific sunsets that will all disappoint because nothing can really capture that kind of magic:

And you will meet authors like the humble and brilliant Newberry Honor recipient Cynthia Lord, who will remind you that being a writer is incredibly difficult but ultimately satisfying.

And perhaps, if you are stuck as I was, you might just get some mojo back…


Lindsey Leavitt said...

I'll go with you next year and we can share that room together. You can have the one by the window.
Glad you had fun!

Courtney Cook Hopp said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Christy. I have a conference on the horizon and this is just the reminder I needed to immerse myself in the energy of other gathered writers!

storyqueen said...

yay for the return of the mojo!!!


Spike said...

Can't tell from your post who the stranger was (probably because it was a stranger), but a. always trust your instincts, especially with strangers, and b. some of the best people I have met in my life started out as strangers. When in doubt, refer to rule a.

The conference sounds great!

I urge everyone I know to boycott Hotwire. Long story. Another time.

Jennie Englund said...

That lobby with the fireplace is exactly as you described it.

And, your story is riveting! Every day I think about it, crave hearing more!!!

The Blogger Girlz said...

Glad you have your mojo back, and good call on not wanting to share the room. They could have been an ax murderer.

Katie Anderson said...

That sounds truly awesome. I MUST go on one of these. Hope you're well! Gonna miss you in LA this year, but SF and I are coming next year :)