By Jason Henry
December 31st always gets people excited. The calendar moves forward, people celebrate new beginnings, and make new resolutions. They reflect on the last twelve months, ponder their wins and their losses, and think about their successes and failures. For me, it seems that phrases such as ‘this year’, ‘next year’ or ‘last year’ don’t hold the same meaning as they once did. In fact, I don’t look at them in terms of calendar years much at all. For me, New Year happens in April.
In fact, a few weeks into my New Year, I am reflecting on ‘last year’. The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. That was my celebration, my turning of the clock. It was twelve months of work and planning culminating into one spectacular weekend. As it is every year, the conference was exciting, informative, funny, and even heartbreaking. It was all of those things and much more. And yes, it certainly was an adventure.
My favorite part of conference is watching the newcomers. I love meeting them, talking to them, learning about their work. But I truly love observing. They come in on Friday morning, bundles of energy waiting to explode into action and take the Pikes Peak Writers Conference by storm. Then, by the time Sunday morning rolls around, their feet are dragging and they can’t speak in full sentences let alone write with them. As someone who helps plan the conference, this tells me one thing… we did our job. Honestly, it’s not just the newbies that are worn out come Sunday, it’s everyone. Adventures should be exhausting. If you set out to explore new worlds or opportunities, to absorb new ideas and learn new concepts, to do the unthinkable and pursue your dreams, you should be so worn out that it hurts to think about going on. Then you should get up and do it all over again.
Isn’t that what writing is all about? The pain, the agony, the exhaustion? We get so into our stories and characters that we feel everything they feel. If they cry, we cry. If they shout for joy, so do we. When their hearts break, ours shatter. Our hearts and souls are devoted to ripping the lives of our characters apart and then stitching them together again with every bit of love we can muster. The people around us think we are losing our minds and wonder if we will ever again find our grip on reality. And it’s okay. Let them wonder.
Let them wonder, because when we go to conferences we are surrounded by people who get us. We are surrounded by folks who have devoted their lives to the same madness as us and it feels great. It is in those moments we learn that we absolutely are not normal and again, it is okay. That is why we wear ourselves down to the point of exhaustion. For one weekend, we can forget about how insane we look to the world around us and focus on our adventure. We can hone our craft, meet amazing people, and pursue our dreams without inhibition or guilt. We do it because it feels like twelve months into a low calorie diet and eating an entire chocolate cake just to raise our frosting covered lips proudly to the world and say, “Why? Because we like cake!”
The 23rd Annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference was indeed a great end to a year. We all had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing faculty members. There were many surprises… I mean, c’mon, who else expected to get goosebumps when R.L. Stine talked, but ended up with laughter pains instead? Right now you are probably enjoying conversations with new acquaintances, and are likely still hitting accept on Facebook friend requests. You are setting new writing goals, making progress on your manuscripts, and probably still have no clear answer to “self or traditional”. You are hitting the send key and completing the requests for your pages, then immediately realizing you could have done something much better in Chapter 7. You are reflecting on the months leading up to the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference and wondering what will be different when the 2016 conference rolls around.
The answer is you. You will be different. You will be another year better, another year closer to the realization of your dreams, and even more courageous as your writing adventure continues despite the concerned glances from people around you. So ignore the calendar, pour a glass of champagne, look at yourself in the mirror and toast… Happy New Year! Celebrate, and enjoy your cake.
I look forward to celebrating with you all once again at the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference.
2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference