The last two weeks have turned me inside out. They revealed the version of myself that is usually too preoccupied with an internal ‘to-do’ list to make an appearance. Between the SLC retreat that left me both raw and comforted, and the AWP conference that pushed me out of my comfort zone, I can’t remember the last time I dedicated so much time to my own development.
SLC stands for ‘Smart Ladies Club’, a name that started as a placeholder with our founder but has stuck due to accuracy. Believe me when I say that the women in this group are truly awe-inspiring bad asses who embrace the ups and downs of life with open arms and a ‘nothing will break me’ attitude. We are a support group, each other’s biggest cheerleaders, listening ears, and strong arms to collapse into when one of us needs rest.
Last year our retreat was in California, and this year we all journeyed to Annapolis. Everyone moved heaven and earth to make it happen—organizing kids, childcare, jobs, spouses. I flew from Seattle, the others traveled from San Diego, Hawaii, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and DC. It sounds crazy for just the weekend, but it is incredibly special to show up for ourselves and each other in such a meaningful way. After an intense three days of courageous connection, I flew home exhausted, but my proverbial ‘cup’ was filled, just in time for my first writer’s conference later that week!
AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, held their conference in Seattle this year. The first one since COVID, over 10,000 writers attended at the Seattle Convention Center for three full days of developmental seminars. I had a hard time narrowing down my schedule to just one panel per timeslot, but my nerdy, note-taking heart was so happy to go back to ‘school’. Here is a full list of all the seminars I attended:
- From Poetry Hotlines to Kate Bush: Writers on Creative Book Promotion
- Crafting Voice in YA Fiction
- Out of the Boneyard: Keeping Dead Manuscripts Alive
- From Slush to Sale: Literary Agents Explain It All
- Reading, Writing, and Revising for Style and Sound
- Defying the Data: Literary Impostors
- Stealing Time: On Purpose, Permission, and Putting Writing First
- The Small Press Author’s Guide to Cultivating Community and Publicity
- Neither the Madonna nor Mommy Dearest: Why and How to Write Real Mothers
- Nevertheless, They Persisted: The Writer and the Long Game
- Show Me the Money: New and Creative Ways to Fund Your Writing Life
- Impossible Balance: Re-Examining the Narrative about Writing and Parenting
It ended up totaling around 18 hours of seminar, and I greedily gobbled up every bit of this food for my soul. I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately while pitching my 6th book, and I had no idea how much I needed the reminder that although writing is solitary day-to-day, there is also a rich community that has experienced everything I am going through. My biggest takeaways were that writing is a LONG road, and I’m not running anyone else’s marathon but my own. I’ve been focused on getting an agent and getting frustrated with the process. I have neglected to celebrate all that I have accomplished because it isn’t my version of “complete success”. I’ve also failed to acknowledge that I am in a very tough season right now with two kids who aren’t in elementary school yet. I am needed intensely—physically and emotionally—all day, every day, and I do not have the capacity to give everything to the craft like some writers can.
I had two books published by a small press before I was 30, while raising two kids. I should be proud of that, damnit. I am also still growing, still learning, and writing brings me great joy. I got turned inside out this month, but also forced out of my own head. Que será, será. I’m not going to whine about the 12 rejections I’ve received for book #6 so far. Time to get to work on my short story submission for a $2,000 grant for parent writers.
Taylor (and all the supportive people in my life who picked up the slack while I was away. You rock)