Kathy & Joan at Goldfield; Trisit & me at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens
Of course the conference was great! ANWA’s presidency and conference committee couldn’t have been more gracious or better organized. Everything was perfect. (I loved the chickens!) The best part was that I got to see many dear friends and finally meet face-to-face several of the sisters I’ve grown to know and love so well through their writings and correspondence. (They looked just like I imagined, though having pictures in their books to refer to might have helped a little.) I was going to list everybody famous I met, groupie that I am, but I’d be sure to miss somebody and feel terrible about it, so I’ll let you, Gentle Reader, languish in suspense and frustration instead. (Sorry about that.)
I love ANWA! I joined a decade ago—back when Marsha Ward’s brainchild was Arizona Night Writers and I only dreamed of publishing a book. (Maybe. Perhaps. Someday.) Because of the incredible sisterhood therein, I’ve published steadily since I joined and ANWA has expanded into several states. This year we can even boast several Whitney Award nominees and two finalists – Joyce DiPastena and Janette Rallison.
My workshop was technically on “scene & sequel,” but it might better have been titled, “Just Write the Stupid Book.” Several people have asked for a transcript and, while I don’t have that, I did write part of the story in Counting Blessings and can share that.
EXCERPT FROM “FIVE WORDS I MET ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN”
I intended from childhood to make use of my meager talent to write. But being careful and troubled about things like school and marriage and children and callings and . . . whatever . . . any talent I might have had was soon buried under an avalanche of life. It would still be there, in fact, if it weren’t for my best friend Joan—one of those fourth types of servants.
Not only did Joan first encourage me to write, she dragged me along to her writer’s group and applauded my first pathetic attempts at novelizationing. (I suspect that's not a word.) In real words, she stooped to dig my one tarnished talent out of the dirt each and every time I dropped it. (Stepped on it. Buried it. Abandoned it forever.) Joan knew me too well. She recognized that I was determined (if not destined) to spend more time obsessing about not having as many talents as everybody else than using the measly one I did have. One day, in total frustration, she yelled at me:
“Just write the stupid book!”
Turns out those were five of the most meaningful words I ever heard. They were so wise, in fact, that I wrote them down and still have them framed and sitting on my desk. Don’t obsess, they remind me. Don’t despair. Be careful not to borrow trouble. Just write a stupid book (or use your meager talent) now and worry about being a no-talent loser later. That simple phrase has so much power—it’s worked nine times for me!—that I’ve been thinking of copyrighting it and selling posters at writers conferences nationwide. (But I’ll give it to you free of charge today. You’re welcome.)