I am so excited! I am also a little freaked out, but mostly the happy kind of anxious. On Sunday, June 29 at 5:30am my husband and I are headed for the airport – the destination: San Francisco! Roy (my husband) is much more traveled than I am, so he has been there before, but I confess I am a Bay Area virgin. It isn’t the destination that has me so excited, however (okay so maybe that is certainly part of it); the real reason I am so psyched is because of the reason I am going to San Francisco. I am going to a writer’s workshop in Big Sur, California. It begins tomorrow (June 29) and goes through Friday, July 4. This conference is a big deal for so many reasons, let me count the ways…
First of all, this is the first event, gathering or whatever else you want to group it into, of various creative minds (particularly writers) coming together since I finished graduate school in 2008. That is a long flipping time. Whenever I attended a residency or workshop when I was working on my MFA it was like the energy there created an explosive creative high that lasted the entire time and ideas (and actual pages) came flowing like never before. I miss feeling connected as a writer, something I have not felt since my illness in 2009. The strokes really messed with me and created a physical disconnect from my voice for a long time. Years later I am reconnected, but it still isn’t the same (not necessarily for the worse, but different).
The second reason is that this workshop is being led by writers I have admired for years, and in some cases are my ultimates. You know, the writers who remind you of why you write. Who make you feel things you didn’t know you could feel and whose words can move you; whether they move you to a place of sadness, anger or love and happiness. The writers who make you think, “I want to affect people like that,” or “I want to write something that matters like this does.” Successful writers who can support themselves and their families with their writing, whose careers you want to emulate in terms of accomplishments (I would never want to write like someone else, a writer’s voice should be as distinct to the individual as fingerprints). The workshop leaders include Cheryl Strayed, Pam Houston, Steve Almond, Samantha Dunn Camp, and Alan Heathcock.
I hope to meet some wonderful people, the kind of meetings that could become meaningful friendships. I also hope through networking, people there, etc. to find a darn editor for my monster manuscript, because I am so over it…
Of course, with my deafness I am terrified that I won’t hear or understand a lot of what is going on. I’m afraid I’ll draw attention to myself (the kind I never want) or people will think I am unfriendly or stupid because I am more quiet and withdrawn. I am scared the conference will prove I am too out of touch as a writer and there is no place for me in the world that I love. And then there are the background fears of not reading the right thing, having a strong enough voice or otherwise embarrassing myself and not connecting with anyone. But while these concerns are ever present, and some of them are very, very loud – the fear or anxiety or worry doesn’t win out over being more than ready for this, happy and absolutely pumped.
While attending the workshop we’ll be staying at this lodge in Big Sur with amazing views, right on the coast. After the workshop ends on Friday (early afternoon) Roy and I are going to some state park (they have a beautiful waterfall) on our way to San Jose, where we’ll be staying. We’re taking the train to San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday and plan to take in many sights including a tour of Alcatraz. I am excited because I have always wanted to visit San Francisco and Roy has been so he is acting as tour guide. It will be my crash course in the Bay Area until we plan another trip out there. Finally, on Monday we are going to the Winchester House Museum in San Jose. There were few things I knew I had to see in the San Jose or San Francisco area, but I have always wanted to visit this place and when I realized we were flying into San Francisco I was determined to make it a point to go (even before we booked our weekend hotel in San Jose).
Overall, I am feeling very, very good. I have all of the normal travel jitters: Do I have everything? What if I forget something? What if something happens while we’re gone? (All of the actual plane and travel concerns because I admit while I am a calm traveler I am an anxious traveler – I just internalize all of it.) And once we’re there: What if my shunt breaks? Where will I go? Who will operate? Will they know A, B, C, D, E, and F and definitely not do G? (Even with all of preparedness, my neurosurgeon didn’t send me the papers I need or a recommendation on who to see or where to go in case something does happen. And while it isn’t likely, with the shunt it can break every two days or every two years and I can be fine and then five minutes later be on my way to an ER so it always makes me nervous. I don’t want just anyone tinkering around in my brain.) Luckily, I have my husband with me, and I know he’ll make sure things that need to happen, happen in case something does go wrong. And then of course, I have already shared all of my workshop worries. If this seems like a lot, no worries it is my normal travel mindset (but I am calm and put together otherwise so aside from my husband who would ever guess). My husband calls me his little stress ball. 😛
The excitement, joy and sheer awesomeness of this trip outweighs everything else. Watch out San Francisco, here we come! 🙂