Three months ago, I read a post on Cami Checketts’ blog about the LDStorymakers Conference. I hadn’t ever heard of it before, but it sounded heavenly and I mentioned it to Charming. “Someday, I would really love to go to that.” A week-and-a-half later, Charming completely shocked me when he handed me a printed registration for the conference and smiled. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Heidi!” Can you believe that??
I was so excited, but when the day finally came, it was unbelievably hard to walk away from my family and go all by myself into the airport. But I did. And it was so good for me!
I flew to Salt Lake City and then drove to the Provo Marriott. The first morning I walked into the huge conference room packed with 400 other writers (who were almost all LDS), I knew it was a historic moment for me. I paused and looked slowly around the room. Memorizing the way my heart filled with satisfaction and smiling my head off. For the first time in my life, I was officially declaring myself a writer and meeting hundreds of other writers!
I literally felt like I had walked out of the writing closet and out into the sunshine. I was born with writing blood coursing through my veins and it was thrilling to meet a hotel full of other people who knew what it was like to need to write. Not just want to write, but need to write.
The classes were super. The people phenomenal. And the motivation intoxicating.
One of the many wonderfully kindred spirits I met there was named Autumn. She was also a stay-at-home mother of three children and she sweetly welcomed me into her group of friends from Utah who were also aspiring authors. On the last day, Autumn said exactly how I feel as both a mother and a writer: “Heidi, I just want to be with my babies and write. That’s it.”
I also got to meet Cami Checketts in person after being online friends for a long time and she was wonderful. She welcomed me into her group of friends from Utah who were all published authors and, man alive, were they funny! Cami has four sons and she also expressed my exact feelings about loving children and loving writing. It was incredible.
I missed my family dearly, but it was unexpectedly therapeutic for me to break away from my life and be “Heidi The Writer” for two days. I acted like my hips and pelvis didn’t hurt. I didn’t even talk about my children for a whole day. All we talked about was what we were writing and how far along we were.
I submitted my first chapter in the First Chapters Contest and it was so enlightening. It was the first time I’d shown one of my stories to anyone but my husband for probably 20 years and it was nerve-wracking, but oh so helpful. I was making so many mistakes! All those years I had sneaked into my brother’s bedroom to write furiously on his word processor, I didn’t realize I was making up my own rules for punctuating dialogue! And I had no idea there were rules about Point of View (in writer’s lingo: POV), and not using exclamation points or “-ly” words, etc.
I came home with a badge full of business cards, a list of books to read on how to write fiction and a free membership to Author’s Incognito (an online group of conference attendees). The picture above is when we were taking our group photo for Author’s Incognito and, on a whim, I asked a great new friend named Christie (another mother of four boys!) to snap one of me. In case you can’t tell from the brilliant smile on my face, I am totally hooked and hoping to attend a writer’s retreat for LDS women up in my neck of the woods in November.
It’s like I was walking around my whole life as half a person. But now I feel whole. And, boy, does it feel good!