Now who in their right mind would want to actually kindle a fire in the belly of a beast? A writer would. Can be debated if any writer (or politician) does actually have a ‘right mind,’ but in my world they, and I, do (writers I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge).
When I arrived at the Florida Writer’s Association’s Eleventh Annual Writer’s Conference I dove straight into an all day workshop called “How to Write Killer Fiction.” This “Celebrity Workshop” was given by Vic DiGenti, a writer of course, published (hence celebrity) and leader of his critique group. The workshop preceded the conference and is actually hosted by the Florida Writers Foundation, which is a nonprofit that promotes literacy. What a slam dunk to get into “conference” mode.
I won’t go into boring detail about all the fantastical workshops I attended throughout the duration of the conference, but I will say that I walked away from each one with my head buzzing, so much so that I went to bed with headaches, just as if I were in the first week of a visit to France, trying to keep up with all the French conversations going on around me. A lot to process, a lot to think about, a lot to question and consider. Writing to prompts has led me to consider submitting a “flash fiction” story. Learning about Digital Publishers has led me to submitting to an agent who handles ebooks only. Exploring how to calm myself, to move in front of an audience and stay cued into my breath has led me to reconsider reading aloud to others or public speaking. Every workshop on polishing my writing whirl-winded through my conscious and left me breathless with discovery. I was even asked to consider coming back next year and presenting a workshop on the business of writing. Then, just when I thought I couldn’t be more overwhelmed, I made the ‘mistake’ of saying I wanted to volunteer (thinking I’d be a body at next year’s conference). Which then led to a path I never considered in any wild dream. I instantly (almost) became assistant secretary for the FWA! The list can go on for a mile of what I took away from this conference. I’m floored. But sitting on that floor my belly is rumbling. It’s hot and steamy, ready to be a part of something bigger than myself, and I dream of what I can do in the next year to win the Royal Palm Literary Award or be in the next FWA anthology or both. I was a RPLA finalist this year. Next year I’d like to be more than that, more than what/who I am now. And I haven’t even touched on all the amazing and diverse people (400+) who were my fellow attendees and staff. As I said, overwhelmed.
I’m home now, in my usual spot in front of my screen and I ponder the mysteries of what it means to write. My gut tells me this is the right thing to do. My head screams I’m a fool for thinking I can write something anyone else (besides my mother) would want to read. I can say I only care about writing to feed my soul, but that isn’t true. As Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote “…a writer without readers is like shouting in an empty room.” My belly is full of fire, my laugh throaty, my tears as warm as anyone else’s. I want to publish. I want to be read. So the beast within me won’t be satiated until I achieve that goal in a meaningful way. My tummy is rumbling with the fire kindled within. Look out world. Here I come.