Sunday, April 14, 2013

Writing Conference

You know those dreams/goals you have that are absolutely thrilling when you think of accomplishing them, but, when you get down to it, make you nervous and completely self-conscious because you sense you don't have one iota of the talent required to make it happen?  Well, I do.  For me, it's writing.

Both of my grandfathers and my mom are published authors, and for as long as I can remember I have romanticized the idea of writing something that others appreciated and valued worth publishing.  What a great legacy, I think, to leave something of yourself left behind in published print.  When I read a book written by a family member or a friend, I feel closer to them and better appreciate the way they saw the world.  Words can be so powerful.

My dream of writing is part of what made me decide to major in journalism.  I remember the first time I saw my byline and article in the Daily Universe.  As small and insignificant as that forum is, it was huge for me.  Then, as a graduate student in New York, my roommate, Tai, and I would have writing sessions every Friday.  She had a flexible work schedule on Fridays and I had no classes, so we would gather up our pens and notepads and trek over to Edgar's Cafe a few blocks from our apartment on the Upper West Side.  We ordered lunch and wrote.  Those are some of my favorite memories of NYC.  I started a little book at that time that I have been slowly working on ever since.  Darren has listened to the same passages multiple times as I change a few words here and there or add sentences and want his feedback.

Well, being the supportive and thoughtful husband that he is, Darren decided to surprise me with a wonderful gift this past Christmas.  We usually have a pretty good idea of what the other person is giving us for a gift, but this past Christmas I was totally clueless.  When I opened my gift, I found our iPad opened to the website for Continuing Studies at Stanford.  The page was open to a specific class for which he had registered me: "Your First Book:  From Inspiration to Publication."  I cried.  I was so excited.

I attended the Saturday course on March 16.  Darren was at a training for work, so I went solo, but it was a wonderful weekend.  As chance would have it, the class was taught by Lynn Stegner, the daughter-in-law of Wallace Stegner whose book The Angle of Repose I had just started reading that previous week (it is a fantastic book, by the way).  I was so inspired by her class that I left bound and determined to make my dream a reality one day.  Here are a few snapshots from the weekend:

^^ I arrived in Palo Alto on Friday night and spent the evening walking along University Ave.  University is a street with a lot of character, and it was great to just window shop and people watch.  I stopped for dinner at Plutos, recommended by my mom's college roommate, Zoe, who was kind enough to pick me up at the airport.

^^ There was some major pampering Saturday morning with room service breakfast. ^^

 The Stanford campus was just a short walk up Palm Dr. from my hotel, but it felt long.  I couldn't wait to get to the classroom, find my seat, and start the class.

I loved every second of the conference and took pages and pages of notes.  The format of the class was very informal, for which I was grateful.  Stegner walked us through each step in the writing and publication process.  She gave us several tips to try and important things to keep in mind for our own books.  I couldn't wait to get back to my computer and try some of her ideas on my own.

The next morning, I enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and some good reading before heading to the airport (with Angle of Repose). 

Thank you, Darren, for such a wonderful gift.  I promise to dedicate my first book to you. ;)
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