Monday, May 12, 2014

Abstract Thoughts: Writer Is Ded. Pls Send Coffee. And Chocolate.

Brilliance from the Idea Salesman
As you've all gathered by now, a few weeks ago Renee and I and the rest of the gang dumped Renee's kids off on Long-Suffering Husband for two days and headed out to a writing conference. And I'm pleased to report that a good time was had by all.

Even the Critic, who got to spend the weekend at Critic Day Care with all the other Critics, where I assume they had a glorious time rattling the bars of their cages not in harmony and snarking back and forth at one another about whose writer sucks more.

(Pay no attention to rumors of a small fire breaking out in that particular meeting room. If we all just look the other way and whistle, I'm sure no one will ever know. Imaginary friends are notoriously difficult to charge with arson anyway.)

I'm not going to talk much about the conference itself here. IE already took care of the broad strokes last week and Renee is working up a post that'll probably be ready in a couple of days that gets into the nitty gritty details. But let me just say this: the Idea Salesmen in charge of that conference really know their stuff. That whole event ran smooth as silk from start to finish. Excellent work, abstract ladies and gentlemen. Excellent work.

No, what I need to spend my time talking about today is the aftermath, and the fact that my writer turned up pretty much useless for a week.

You see, Renee's an introvert. A big one. She once took one of those Myers-Briggs tests and the proctor said she checked the scoring three times just to be sure because she'd never had someone score 100% Introverted before.

And the conference, while fun and educational and entertaining and something Renee would sign up for again in a heartbeat, was also really draining.

Some of that is my fault. Maybe she could have spent her time in the panels just quietly taking notes in the back of the room, but I kept pushing her to sit near the front, and make small talk with her neighbors before and after, and ask questions whenever she thought up a decent one. She also maybe didn't need to go to every single workshop, panel, and critique session that it was physically possible to attend. Yeah, a break here and there would probably have been a good idea.

I was just so excited. We haven't been to a writing conference in five years. Five years! That's a really long time for an Idea Salesman to go without networking. And it took everything I had to convince Renee that, even though she didn't have anything ready to pitch yet, and even though money is pretty tight right now, this was still a good investment. I didn't want her to waste a minute.

But the downside to sending an introvert into a situation like that and giving her no time off in the middle is that she spent the whole next week writing no words. Because while she was all kinds of inspired and energized while out there in the thick of things, as soon as she got home and had a few minutes of quiet, the strain of being "on" for so long hit her like a landslide. And then her brain pretty much turned to mush and leaked out her ears.

As someone who lives inside her brain, let me assure you that was not a pleasant process. It sucked. It sucked a lot.

We've sort of got things back together now and the writing engines are revving back up, but man, that was rough. So we're probably not going to do things that way again.

Breaks during an event like that are going to be a must, as is staying at the conference hotel or at least finding an unused room somewhere that she can hide in during those breaks for some peace and quiet.

And maybe we'll schedule conferences at the beginning of vacation weeks from now on, rather than at the end. And if there's not a vacation week available, we'll at least back off on the word count goal for the next couple of days.

But we're also not going to let Renee just melt into a puddle of mush when she gets home either. Even though it was rough on her mentally, taking a whole week off afterward to clean and bake and read is no good either. Balance is the key and all that.

Live and learn, right. We lived and now we've learned. Hopefully I'll be able to put these lessons into action sooner rather than later. I don't want to let Renee push me off for another five years.

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