We’d hoped to leave our valley by 10am. 430pm we were finally on the road. The little boy erupted in sneezes and coughing fits at the top of the Grapevine. When we stopped somewhere on the other side of the mountains to purchase cough syrup, Advil (for me) and really-bad-for-you popcorn (for the dadda), the dadda, the boy and I got out of the minivan and froze. Literally. Ahhhhh! Where Winter went! we said, ours having been depleted by the onslaught of heatwaves since Summer 2013.
The normally insufferable 5 Freeway offered views of wide, distant rainstorms. Sun penetrated clouds in glowing shafts—celestial sleeves (I said), until they turned green and became: Greeeensleeeeves, a lightshow on fields. Ahhhhhh! we remarked when the windshield wipers were activated. Weather! Rain! Glorious! Most beautiful drive up the 5 I’ve ever experienced. I’m always telling my son there is exciting weather in this world, weather that has nothing to do with consistent scorch. He finally believes me.
830am the next morning I was in Citrus Heights, which is a bit beyond Sacramento, and there was coffee in the community center’s main huge room and tasty treats, like donuts and things I never eat and totally did and enjoyed every last crumb. What could be better than coffee, donuts and Jay Asher giving the keynote? After listening to him, I decided not to let any potential rejections bother me for the rest of the year.
The conference sessions began. Okay, Spring Spirit organizers–Patricia Newman, Catherine Meyer and their crew–have the conference running like a well-oiled BMW. Sessions began promptly, were well presented and topics were timely for published to unpublished attendees. As for the attendees: So friendly. On breaks, we shared writing experiences, backgrounds and info—a fulfilling experience all around. Plus, I got to chat with writer Beth Hull, perhaps the biggest treat of the day for me.
Nikki Grimes gave the closing keynote. She talked about the importance of patience when writing and how she doesn’t have much of it, yet has loads. But not really. Which is how books happen. If you can ever hear her speak, you should–she has a great story to tell.
Suddenly it was over. How the HE** did that happen? On my way out of the center, I picked up my manuscript (first 25 pages of), which had been critiqued by a professional, an option offered by the conference. Later that night, after dinner with my niece at Magpie in Sacramento, the drive back to Stockton, too many chocolate chip cookies and a big glass of my father-in-law’s favorite zinfandel from a local winery, I read the critique and was stunned.
My critiquer was generous with her thoughts and comments in a constructive, positive manner. I could tell she really took the time to comb through those 25 pages and with the touch of a critic genuinely trying to help a writer. A wonderful end to the day.
Feed your Writer-You and go to the Spring Spirit. This was my second visit. I’m looking forward to next May. You can count on SS to give you more than what you’ve paid for. And who knows? You might see some weather. And hopefully my writing mentor giving the keynote.
Yours in productive writing experiences (with Advil, if necessary, and cough syrup standing by, no donuts, but definitely coffee and hopefully some rain, although we’re back up to 95 degrees in our perpetually broiling valley),
P (achoo) B