Sunday, October 9, 2011
Wordstock Moment #2
Afternoon and the convention halls are quiet. I’ve chosen to occupy the opposite end of the center, away from all the writers who love to talk. I want to write today. A few whispering women pass by on their way to the restroom, also on my end of the hall. I’m sitting in the “Laptop Lounge”, a cool name for an area with little stools, a long shelf and plugs in the wall. My back is to the hall. I get to face a dark blue wall for inspiration. At least my back is turned, allowing me to avoid all eye contact and feel alone. I like to be alone when I write. But I’m not alone. The bright recessed lighting overhead casts a hard shadow of my own hand writing on paper. My shadow is always there – but usually it contains itself better. I can’t seem to escape the smell of coffee. As much as I try to avoid grouping people and making blanket statements, I’m beginning to hypothesize that the one common thread among writers, beyond the love of words, is drinking coffee. I smell it now, I smelled it this morning, and no doubt its scent will linger through the early evening seminars. The tingling in my left leg also won’t leave me alone. These stools would be more comfortable for a tall person but I’m shrinking. At five foot three my legs dangle, my clogs sway like a heavy pendulum. There’s also an incessant hum coming from the hundreds of writers and dentists, here for completely different conventions. Can’t say the curious writer in me hasn’t considered crashing the Dental Convention, I mean, what can they all be talking about? Certainly floss techniques can’t take up that much time. The dentists have large bright blue badges granting them access to Exhibit Hall B. So for now, I’ll have to forgo learning the secret world behind Orthodontics. I’m worried I’m wasting my time. It’s ticking. A full time teaching job looms on the horizon and I have to decide. Make the jump or miss the train. Do I follow my non-income producing writing career – or go back to what I know, what I am good at? How much to I commit, to either one? I’ve had this same conundrum my entire life. In Junior High and High School I couldn’t decide on what extra-curricular activity to do, so I did them all, almost literally: drama, student council, volleyball, soccer, cheerleading, yearbook. I even tried softball, girls basketball, golf and to my dismay, track. My Dad told me it was my responsibility to quite being soccer captain because I’d missed many games due to being in drama performances. The volleyball coach said I could not do so much and had to choose. I quit volleyball that year, avoided that coach and took on a new position as student representative on the school board. I can never decide what I want to “do” – so I do it all and if you look at my track record, you’d see I don’t do it all so well. As I look back I realize it’s the same now. So as long as no volleyball coach approaches me and forces me to remove something from my plate, I won’t. I’ll go on binging on what I love and do, do, do. Perhaps that explains my coffee addiction. The ample air conditioning in the convention center delivers wafts of warm espresso directly to me in the Laptop Lounge. I need to get off this stool, shake out my fallen asleep numb leg and go before my next class begins. I turn around and see directly behind me is a “meditation room”. It’s for the dentists. I feel shunned and that there’s just something inappropriate about that. The meditation room should be for the writers. As I look down the hallway, back to the domain where I belong, I see two coffee carts. Crowds are pouring out of the double-doors to a stuffy convention center room, one class is getting out, and another will begin shortly, mine. Maybe I’ll grab a coffee on the way. This writing convention has been lovely. I’ve learned some, listened plenty, and browsed the publishers booth’s, editors stations, small book promoters… but I still feel like a voyeur peeking into a world to which I don’t exactly belong, yet.