By Ashley Hodges Bazer
The recurring theme I saw during the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference 2014 could be summed up in one word: SUPPORT. I witnessed it in many ways, and I’d love to share just a few.
By volunteering to stuff bags the night before the Thursday add-on, I got to see a unique perspective of the backstage work that goes on prior to the conference. Oh, I’ve attended a few of the planning meetings, but nothing like this. As I stuffed bags with a dedicated few, our conference team was putting out fires and taking care of the last-minute details. You know the duck feet analogy. Ducks swim serenely across a pond and look so peaceful and content...but below the surface, their feet are paddling like crazy! That would perfectly describe what was going on that night. And as I left at 10 p.m., I knew there were still many more hours the staff would put in before they could give into sleep. I am in awe and inspired by the crew of people who devote their time and energy to putting together one of the best writers’ conferences around. This kind of unnoticed undergirding and support is what makes PPWC so great.
As the conference started on Friday, the electricity in the air was awesome. New, nervous writers along with old friends coming together for a single purpose—to hone their craft. The talent that gathered in the Marriott that weekend could rule the world, if we all weren’t so bloomin’ introverted. The faculty and staff headed off to their respective places to teach and support the hopeful attendees. Even mealtimes weren’t wasted as they offered encouraging words from both the podium and the host seats around the ballroom.
Pitch day is my favorite, especially since I’ve been on the pitch staff for the last two years. I love greeting attendees as they arrive on the seventh floor. Whether you’re confident and ready, or nervous as can be, I’m glad to offer a smile, a mint, or a verbal boost. This is my little way of giving back, of supporting the courage and fortitude it takes to step off that elevator. But beyond Pitch Day itself, I have to applaud the pitch staff and Bonnie Hagan for stepping up after we lost Amanda. For those of you who don’t know, Amanda was the heart and soul of Pitch—at least for the two years I’ve been involved. The transition, despite the heartache, was seamless and only because of the support of the PPWC leadership.
Saying goodbye, or at least “See you again next year,” is never easy. Winding up a conference like this requires perhaps not as much behind-the-scenes work as pulling it together, but it still takes a lot. With a team of people and a caravan of five or six cars, we took boxes, crates, and bags of conference-related items to a nearby storage unit. The support was necessary, and because we had so many hands, it didn’t take that long!
I’m pleased to say that support wasn’t left at the conference. Through the friendships cemented and connections made, I’ve gained a family of like-minded folks in Pikes Peak Writers. They saw me through the launch of my book, cheering me on and even purchasing it. Just recently, I attended one of the Write Brain sessions, to be greeted with smiles, hugs, and joy.
I treasure my time with Pikes Peak Writers. I really do. There is no other experience like it in the world. And with programs like the Write Brains, the Open Critique sessions, and the Writers’ Night get-togethers, we’re able to capture glimpses of that same excitement and wonder that we know at Conference. I’m grateful for my family of writers—for everything. For the love. For the encouragement. For the support. Thank you all.
About the Author: Ashley Hodges Bazer is the author of Heralds of the Crown: Poison, releasing May 16th, 2014 from Distinguished Press. She’s often decked out in bellbottoms and grooving out on the lighted dance floor. Okay, not really, but she does have a thing for the BeeGees. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. After earning her bachelor’s degree in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, she went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. A love affair with books led her to work for several different bookstores. Currently a producer for an international daily radio program, she’s learning to balance working, writing, and momming duties. Her debut novel, Asylum, was traditionally published by WestBow Press in 2012. When she’s not writing, she’s crocheting or belting out Broadway show tunes. And she's a real duchess!
(Editor's Note: Watch for Ashley in an upcoming Sweet Success post.)