Sunday, September 28, 2014

Writers Galore


       When I was a girl, yesterday, I had this tendency for great expectations. Greater, higher, loftier than humanly possible expectations about birthdays, holidays, and Sunday School picnics.
There would be magic on my birthday. Fairies must fly in, gifts wrapped in gold-leaf and music from a pan flute as I danced with the young birches over the lawn. Holidays would be perfect - restful, fun, with merry-go-rounds, endless marshmallow campfires, and family laughter.
The Sunday School picnic would be just like Anne of Green Gables, with flowers, ice cream, a best friend, and beating boys at the three-legged race. I really believed all this.

 Now, having explored my aged personality, I know all about the boring facts related to Idealism and the Limits of Reality. I've also learned small lessons regarding mosquitos, the stationary nature of trees, and long rainy road trips with young siblings. As time went on I discovered the colour leaching out of all the glorious expectations, and learned that fantasy, though fantastic, is fantasy. I looked in the Wardrobe. I felt all the way back - reached for tree branches and the shock of snow - always, always the flat wall. Not even when I closed my eyes. Perhaps my parents wondered why their clothes were often askew on the hangers, or they simply rolled their eyes at each other's apparent carelessness. They didn't remember about Wardrobes, at least not in the cold light of day.

Growing up some, I settled in, realizing that presents were simply things bought at stores and that holidays and picnics were best anticipated. New experiences, however, were still surrounded in wonder and softly falling glitter. My cynicism surely could not extend to boyfriends, first dates, new jobs, college. Alas, the glitter showed itself to be simple dust, turning slowly in the glare of street lamps. It wasn't that life was so awful, it was that the expectations were so HIGH. And so, disappointment. Disappointment multiplied can lead to a generally cynical attitude toward everything. The protective callus forms over the raw flesh, does it not?

This past weekend was an exception. I went, finally and with trepidations and anticipations, to a Christian writer's conference in Edmonton. Oh, there were the usual realizations that workshop speakers are, in fact, mere mortals. And that not everyone who is a good writer is an effective teacher. And it was crowded; we were sitting mostly in each other's laps and if you happened to leave your purse sticking out under your arm there was likely a human domino situation. Yes, we were tired and yawning, brains stuffed and overflowing.  Ah, but we were learning about writing! And there were BOOKS! Stacks, plethoras, mounds even of books, written by the mere mortals that paced the conference halls and rode in elevators with me, ME, of all people! And there was food! And the food was good! And free coffee!

Picture the crowning moment. I'm alone, sprawled over one of two queen beds in a clean white hotel room, surrounded by pens and notebooks and new books, pillows behind me, reading and writing and revelling. I was just inspired by a day of listening to seasoned writers pour out their hearts. I've been encouraged and cheered on by spiritual advisors I respect and admire. Of course, they don't actually know if I can write a note on a napkin, but I know I can.
Alas and alack, it was glorious. Expectations firmly grounded in reality, this time, anticipation was free to soar. I soaked it all in like a kid on the last sunny day at the beach. I listened, talked to interesting people from all over Canada, I took notes, I laughed. I may have insulted a Rider's fan from Saskatchewan. I had breakfast with a perfect stranger. I re-warmed ideas that had been left to congeal far too long on the back burner.
Life at the moment is hectic and I may never have that perfect time to write. I may never be published, and honestly that is alright. I have been to the top of the lookout and I saw the ships in the harbour, white sails unfurled.

As I walked away from the hotel, across the parking lot to my car and thence home, I didn't have to turn around to know there was glitter, real and sparkling, in the air.

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