I’ve been going to blogging conferences more or less regularly since 2008 and, other than for the very first one I attended, I’ve had to fly to get there. I always feel a hint of envy for the people who live within driving distance of the conference; packing for them is a breeze and doesn’t need to resemble a game of Tetris, but then I remember just how much I relish my flights home and I go back to trying to find creative ways to fit a million pairs of shoes and countless little 3oz bottles of shower products into my carry-on bag.
You see, conferences tend to be like this:
You arrive, a bit anxious, a bit shy. You meet a few people in the lobby of the hotel. You go up to them with trepidation, introduce yourself and BAM, you’re off. For the next two or three days the hectic mornings of a mom with 7 kids will have nothing on your frantic pace. First there are lots of sessions. It’s like cramming a semester’s worth of studies into a two day period. Then there’s networking in the halls between sessions. Lastly there are a bunch of evening events, dinners, after dinner chats, after chat drinks, and then decompressing and processing with your roommates until the late hours of the night.
Add to that the fact that most conferences take place on the East coast leaving me with a 3 hour time delay which works great in the evening and not so great in the morning, and you’ll find me, on the morning I’m due to go home, vibrating slightly from a mixture of too much coffee, too little sleep, and way too much information to process.
Know what’s an amazing cure for that?
Being strapped into a plane seat for a couple of hours.
Until this weekend every post conference flight has given me the opportunity to sit down, pen in hand, and just free write my way out of the buzzing chaos in my head.
I never fail to be amazed at the coherence that I can pull from the noise.
This weekend, three days hanging out with other writers at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, should have ended the same way. I have pages and pages of notes taken in incredible session after incredible session to read through. I have a ton of business cards to sort through and ideas about emails I want to write to think through. It was an amazing conference. One I know I have so much to say about.
But a large group of punk kids had a party in the lobby and parking lot of our hotel the last night we were there. They partied, loudly, starting around 11pm. When I left to go to the airport at 4:30am they were still going strong. I was very, very tired and very, very cranky.
So instead of freewriting and processing my way home, I slept. Hard.
And then there were my kids to hug, puppy kisses to fight off, stories about their weekend to hear, messes to clean up, life to get back on track, and all that brilliance has been pushed into some shadowy recess of my brain, awaiting a quiet moment to emerge.
Of course it’ll have to wait. This morning I’m having a preventative breast MRI, then the puppy needs to go to the groomer, I need to take the kids to apply for passports, three days of emails to answer, oh, and I have to figure out how to get my Passover cake out of the mold it seems to be really attached to. Thinking that singing Let it Go! at the top of my lungs isn’t going to cut it.
If there is one thing I am taking away from this weekend, one thing I don’t need quiet to process, it’s that I need to re-prioritize my days. I need to make space for the words. Because at the end of the day, without the words I have nothing, nothing I’m proud to call my own, and that pride was the highlight of my weekend, one I’m not ever going to be ready to give up.